Over three quarters of organisations cite Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation as influential in creating culture change towards mental health

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Posted on 29/03/2017

Signatories of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation – which is led by Mind, Sport and Recreation Alliance, and the Professional Players Federation – have reported an encouraging change in how their organisation thinks and talks about mental health. Over three quarters (78%) of Charter signatories said that since signing up there has been a positive culture change in their organisation about being more inclusive towards mental health.

The Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation uses the power of sport and recreation to promote mental wellbeing through physical activity. It works to provide best practice so that sport and recreation can make a positive difference to mental ill health and break down the stigma that surrounds it. 

80% of signatories also reported that from the time they committed to the Charter, staff, volunteers and participants in their organisation feel more open about discussing mental health.

Today, as the Charter celebrates its second anniversary at the London Aquatics Centre on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, in partnership with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), the steering group is urging more sport and recreation organisations to commit to the Charter and benefit from creating a more inclusive culture.

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport, said:

“Participating in sport and physical activity can have a huge benefit to a person's mental wellbeing as well as their physical health. This is why we made mental health one of the key outcomes of the government's sports strategy with public funding made available to projects that can deliver on this front.

"The Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation complements our work and is supporting organisations in the sector to implement projects that benefit people across the country. I encourage any organisation not already a signatory to sign up to the Charter."

Established by the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the Professional Players Federation and Mind in 2015, the Charter works to provide sport and recreation organisations with best practice so that they can make a positive difference to mental ill health. To date, 260 organisations have signed up to the Charter and committed to make their activities more open and accessible to everyone, including those with mental health problems.

Charter signatory, the Rugby Players’ Association recently launched the #LiftTheWeight campaign which aims to remove the stigma surrounding mental health by sharing the stories of teammates and peers. #LiftTheWeight is an example of the positive action Charter signatories are taking to create a greater understanding of mental health and use the collective power of sport and recreation to promote positive mental wellbeing.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind says:

“We know that sport has a huge role to play in reducing stigma and encouraging positive conversation around mental health, from grass roots all the way to elite level. We’re delighted to back the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation and are heartened that we are already seeing the positive impact it is having on the organisations who have signed up to it so far.

“Sport brings people together. The benefits of physical activity for mental health and wellbeing are well known, and sport has been used to support people with mental health problems for some time. We are looking forward to continuing our work with the Alliance, PPF, Sport England and sporting bodies to incorporate mental health into their strategies to make sport more accessible to people with mental health problems and use it as a force for social change.”

The steering group of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation said:

“The Charter was established to bring sport and recreation organisations together to tackle the stigma that surrounds mental health. Sport and recreation has a responsibility to challenge this stigma and we will continue to keep working with organisations to help them put in place good mental health practice.

“We’re delighted to welcome our most recent signatories of the Charter, LLDC and GLL and are very grateful to them for providing us with this fantastic venue to celebrate the two-year anniversary. It’s brilliant that volunteers from Motivate East, which offers health and physical activity projects in seven East London boroughs surrounding the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, could come along and help us celebrate by hosting a game of Boccia.

“We must continue to raise the profile of sport and recreation’s role in helping to promote positive mental wellbeing and as a group, we will continue to support meaningful programmes that cater to the needs of all groups within our society.”

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