1st March 2024

Physical and mental health have a close relationship. Doing physical activity or sport can have a very positive effect on mental health and wellbeing. At SAMH, we’ve recognised this since at least 2010, when we launched our first national physical activity and sport programme. Since then, we’ve developed and delivered a huge range of projects, research and programmes intended to help people get involved with physical activity and sport to benefit their mental health.

That’s why we’ve partnered with the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24, which is the first time the Championships have come to Scotland and starts today. We are delighted that the organisers of the World Athletics Indoor Championships see the important role sport has to play in promoting good mental health.

This is also the first time that an event of this size has committed to improving mental health in this way. Organisers have signed Scotland’s Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Sport, which is funded by the Scottish Government and supported by sportscotland, and means that mental health awareness has been embedded across the Championships.

Together we’ve worked hard to make sure it will be a mentally healthy event. We’ve trained volunteers and staff to develop their mental health awareness, so that they can better look after themselves and others. It also means that volunteers will be able to take their new skills and knowledge back to their communities and clubs after the event, more equipped to raise awareness of mental health in sport and challenge the barriers people with mental health problems sometimes face participating in sport, and building mental health capacity across Scotland.

Aderonke, a volunteer ambassador, had this to say about the training he received:

"The training was really useful and insightful. It's something I can pass onto others, especially with my career in events. I work with teams and to make a team function really well, everyone has to be on their A game. If one person is down, the whole team is going to feel down.

"When I successfully let them know the importance of mental health, that's when all our goals and objectives, everything we want to achieve, will come out better."

But our partnership with the World Athletics Indoor Championships is not just about elite sport. You don’t need to be a professional athlete to feel the benefits of physical activity. Even short spells of regular gentle activity – like walking or wheeling – built into your normal routine can really help. That’s why we’ll be at St Enoch Square with our Wellbeing on Wheels bus this Saturday and Sunday (2-3 March) encouraging people to think about five ways to improving their mental health and wellbeing, including doing some physical activity.

If you didn’t manage to get a ticket for the Championships (or even if you did!), why not come see us, and talk about how you can use physical activity or sport to help your mental health and wellbeing.

Robert Nesbitt is Head of Physical Activity and Sport at SAMH.