Today is World Mental Health Day, and we’re delighted to mark the day by announcing our latest mental health initiative – the jogscotland wellbeing champions.
Our two wellbeing champions, Jenni Rees-Jenkins and Ted McPake, are jogscotland members and jog leaders with lived experience of mental health issues. They have pledged to take a lead in speaking out about their own experiences of mental health, particularly the ways in which exercise has helped them. The two volunteers have received additional training and support from our partners, SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) to enable them to better understand and support others when talking about mental health.
We know that being active can be a huge boost to mental wellbeing, but often mental health issues are in themselves a barrier to getting active. Our new wellbeing champions will be available to work with jogscotland groups in their areas to help them identify possible barriers to participation, and to make jogscotland as accessible as possible. They will promote the message that being active benefits your mental health. They have also committed to continuing their own learning and training on issues around mental wellbeing.
While they are not trained counsellors, they can provide a listening ear and share their own experiences, and signpost people in need of support to the correct source of help.
Jenni, who is a jog leader with Jogscotland Kintore, was the first winner of our SAMH Mental Wellbeing Award at last year’s jogscotland awards, having been very open about how exercise has helped her cope with depression.
She says: “We have been doing training into working with others who have mental health issues. SAMH have some excellent online courses and face to face training sessions that teach you all about the different aspects of mental health. We embarked on a training day to give insight into the counselling service and to brush up our own coaching and mentoring skills. From here we can work more confidently with those who need our help. We can “see” them, and provide an ear to just listen and then maybe give advice pulled from our own lives mixed with insight from SAMH.”
Ted, who is a jog leader with jogscotland Airdrie, says: “Mental health and wellbeing is very important to me because of my own experiences and hurdles. I want to get the message out that mental health is just as important as physical health and that it shouldn’t be a taboo subject. The more it is talked about and the more general awareness there is, people are less likely to feel shame in asking for help.
“It is important to recognise that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for mental health issues and wellbeing. I hope that using my own experiences, along with training from SAMH, I can help others.”
As well as being partners with SAMH, jogscotland was among the first signatories to Scotland’s Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Sport. Under the charter, we submitted an action plan laying out what steps we would take to reduce the barriers to engaging, participating and achieving for people with mental health problems. Just yesterday we saw the close of our brilliant Sammy’s Road Trip initiative, so we are delighted to launch our wellbeing champions today as the next step in our action plan.
- We’ll have more from both Ted and Jenni on the website soon…