Sport marks World Mental Health Day

10 Oct 2018

By: Sport Industry Group

Swim England is among a host of UK sport industry organisations and partners activating around World Mental Health Day 2018.

The governing body of swimming in England released the findings of a YouGov poll it commissioned into the impact of swimming on participants’ mental wellbeing.

It found that 1.4 million adults in the UK believe that swimming significantly reduces the impact of their mental health conditions.

Almost half a million credit swimming with reducing the number of their mental health-related medical visits, with a similar number claiming that swimming has enabled them to reduce their medication.

In total, the research showed that around 3.3 million British adults with mental health problems swim regularly (at least once every 2-3 weeks).

Elaine McNish, head of health and wellbeing at Swim England said: “The findings released today are very encouraging and support our work to create aquatic exercise classes that GPs and health professionals can recommend to people with mental health concerns.”

Ian Cumming, chairperson of Swim England’s Swimming and Health Commission, added: “Physical activity in any form can have a positive impact on a person’s mental health, but swimming is unique because the buoyancy of water ensures everyone is able to take part at a pace that suits them. It is particularly good for people with restricted movement."

“Research shows that simply being in water can be restorative. People relax in many different ways - some set a target and aim to beat their time while others prefer a more leisurely swim on their own or with friends. Swimming provides that choice, and if it is regularly prescribed alongside other forms of support, swimming could have a real impact on wider society.”

The research findings were released alongside the publication of a new video, forming part of Swim England’s new #LoveSwimming campaign.

Other notable campaigns in the space include Legal & General’s ‘Not A Red Card,’ which uses sport to help tackle issues of mental wellbeing in the workplace.

A new video was released this week starring Olympic champion Lizzie Yarnold, building on the insurance specialist’s announcement of the shortlist for its inaugural ‘Not A Red Card’ awards.

Meanwhile a new boxing podcast, ‘Off The Canvas’, is launching to coincide with World Mental Health Day, speaking to some of the leading men within boxing about their personal experiences with mental health.

Daily episodes throughout the week will include interviews with Luke Jackson, a recent opponent of Carl Frampton, on managing OCD; footballer-turned boxer Leon McKenzie; Sky Sports pundit Spencer Oliver; and emerging light heavyweight Charlie Duffield, whose brother took his own life. 

The concept of the podcast, which is hosted by Nik Hobbs and available on Audioboom and iTunes, is to inspire more men to feel comfortable talking about mental illness, by demonstrating that some of the perceived ‘strongest’ men around have also suffered and managed to win their toughest fight.

Co-Creator Paddy Hobbs said: “We’ve been incredibly fortunate that some amazing guests have agreed to come on and speak to us so openly on topics that are clearly very personal to them. If the podcast series has some kind of positive impact on just one person, then we’ll see this as a massive knockout success.”