Mental Health Awareness Week: the benefits of keeping active

Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 takes place from Monday 8 to Sunday 14 May. Every year, the Mental Health Foundation campaigns around a specific theme to mark the week. This year, the theme is ‘Surviving or Thriving’, and the Foundation is encouraging everyone to look at mental health from a new angle. Rather than ask why so many people are living with mental health problems, this year they seek to uncover why too few of us are thriving with good mental health.

Woman happy in a canoe

The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) recognises the impact that physical activity has on all our health and wellbeing, and aims to support more people to be active through the Get Out Get Active (GOGA) project.

The Mental Health Foundation’s new report, Surviving or Thriving?, explores the state of the UK’s mental health. Findings from the report include that the great majority (85%) of people out of work have experienced a mental health problem, compared to two-thirds of people in work and just over half of people who have retired. In addition, nearly two-thirds of British adults say that they have experienced a mental health problem. This rises to seven in every ten women, young adults aged 18-34 and people living alone. The report concluded that levels of good mental health are disturbingly low.

EFDS's Lifestyle Report released in September 2013, revealed that people with mental health issues are less engaged in sport and physical activity. The research highlights that people with mental health issues are much less likely to be engaged in sport compared to people with other impairments. MIND also highlight why being active is important, and released a guide to Wellbeing through Physical Activity and Sport in 2015.

At EFDS we believe that physical activity and sport play an important role in promoting good mental health, contributing to improved self-esteem, mood and energy levels.

Working together with Spirit of 2012 and programme partners we aim to reach those who are least active and promote good mental health through our Get Out Get Active (GOGA) project. This programme will help to support more disabled and non-disabled people to move more and lead active and healthy lifestyles together.

We want to use the power of physical activity and sport to:

  • Encourage greater social cohesion resulting from people having fun being active together
  • Create a more tolerant, informed society
  • Foster improved life chances
  • Alleviate social poverty and isolation

To do this, over the next three years GOGA will deliver 30,000 active recreational sessions in 18 different locations across the UK. All of these activities will look to attract new participants regardless of ability or interests. It is our role collectively as GOGA partners to support these activities and opportunities to become more appealing and more welcoming to all!

So come and join in – for more information please visit the GOGA website.

To find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week and get involved, visit the Mental Health Foundation website.