Supporting joggers’ mental wellbeing

Every year 1 in 4 of us in Scotland will experience a mental health problem.

So it’s important to be ready to talk about mental health. Accessing the right information is vital when supporting someone who is struggling with their mental health.

What should you do if you are worried about a jogger’s mental health?

It can be very difficult to see someone you know become distressed and unwell, but you don’t need to be an expert on mental health to offer support. Often, small everyday actions can make the biggest difference.

Keep in mind most people don’t want to be identified by their mental health problem, so keep talking about the things you normally talk about during your jogging group.

Our partner SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) advise that creating an atmosphere in which people can talk about their mental health and address problems before they become crises helps the individual. Here are some ideas for how to start the conversation at your jog group:

  • Put five minutes aside at the start of your jog and suggest to your joggers that they share something about their day.
  • Encourage your joggers to take notice of their surroundings whilst running. Set aside time at the end to gather as a group to discuss what they have seen.
  • Encourage joggers to pair up, and chat about their general wellbeing whilst they jog. They might just want to talk about their running niggles, but some joggers might find that this opens up space to chat about their mental wellbeing too.
  • Ask your joggers how they look after their mental health. Do they have suggestions for what worked for them that they could share with other joggers?
  • Share SAMH publications with your jog group. You can find these on the SAMH website.

If someone does want to talk to you and open up about their mental health, SAMH suggests some tips on how to talk about how they are feeling:

  • Make the time and space to listen and support, this might be after your jog when you both have more time.
  • Ask open-ended questions that go deeper than “yes” or “no” answers.
  • Avoid giving advice and focus on listening to what’s going on for them.
  • Reassure them that they did the right thing by talking.
  • Be non-judgemental: try not to assume you know what caused their problem or that you know how to fix it.
  • Don’t dismiss what they are saying.
  • Factor in your own mental health, and be realistic about what you can do to help.
  • If appropriate advise that they speak to their GP. Making an appointment to see a GP is a good place to start if they are worried about their mental health.

Our partner SAMH is here to help. For more information on how to support someone with their mental health, visit the SAMH website.

For advice on taking care of your own mental health, you might also like to read the Taking care of your mental health page in our Active Living section.

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