700 sports clubs commit to prioritising mental health

14th May 2024

More than 700 sporting clubs and community organisations have committed to embedding positive mental health and wellbeing practices, helping to make sport and physical activity more inclusive and mentally healthy.

Think Nature Health Walks, a network of walking groups throughout rural Highland, has become the 700th signatory to Scotland’s Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Sport, which is managed and delivered by SAMH (Scottish Action for Mental Health).

The milestone coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week, taking place 13 to 19 May with the theme of moving more to support our mental health. Any kind of activity can help boost our mood, and everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the mental and physical health benefits of being active.

The Charter aims to improve equality and reduce discrimination by ensuring mental health problems are not a barrier to engaging, participating and achieving in sport and physical activity.

Through a SAMH toolkit and online resources, the Charter supports anyone involved in physical activity and sport, from grassroots to elite level, to talk about mental health and wellbeing and to know where to go to get help.

One Think Nature Health Walks participant said their walking group provides “a vital regular beacon, helping not only in keeping up a certain level of physical fitness and hope, but perhaps more importantly, a balance of mental wellbeing, through regular support, constant companions and friendship. All in the context of the great wild Highland outdoors.”

Reaching 700 sport and activity organisations up and down the country comes just months after the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24 became the first event of its kind to join the Charter, committing to a mentally health Championships for staff, volunteers, athletes, officials and spectators.

Billy Watson, Chief Executive of SAMH (Scottish Action for Mental Health), said: “Achieving 700 signatories is a tremendous milestone. That’s 700 clubs and organisations across Scotland taking action to support people’s mental health and wellbeing, using the collective power of physical activity and sport to create positive lasting change. We encourage anyone who would like to find out more about how the Charter can support their organisation to get in touch.”

Isabel McLeish, Health Walk Coordinator at Think Nature Health Walks, said: “Walking in your local green space is a great way to support your health and wellbeing. People joining our walks share how important the walking groups are for helping to get out and about more, developing connections with others, and reducing social isolation.”

Isabel has completed the SAMH mental health awareness module, taken part in further mental health awareness training, and joined the Scottish Health Walk Networks’ Mental Health Advisory Group.

The Charter is funded by the Scottish Government and supported by sportscotland. It was officially launched in 2018 by SAMH Ambassador Sir Chris Hoy.