The Get Active Connectors project, which officially launched in June 2023 at a mental health dog walk run by Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Mind, will support more people across the country to get moving, by introducing them to the benefits of physical activity for mental well-being in a friendly, inclusive environment.
This comes as research from Mind suggests that almost two-thirds of people (65 per cent) feel physical activity should be offered alongside medication and talking therapy. Yet, despite this, nearly half of people who aren’t active say it’s because they are too tired to participate (48%), while more than two in five people say it’s because they feel self-conscious about their bodies (41%) and more than one in five say it’s because they are worried about taking part by themselves (22%).
Through this work, local Minds at sites in England and Wales will be supporting people at risk of or experiencing mental health problems – such as depression and anxiety – to build their confidence to try new activities. This could be on their own, with a group or club, or at the local leisure centre. And from dog walking to geocaching, chair exercise or dance, to yoga. All movement counts towards supporting positive mental well-being.
Funded as part of Mind’s charity partnership with sports brand ASICS, the Get Active Connector role seeks to build on the success of previous Mind physical activity programmes. It will enable local Minds to fund a specific physical activity lead locally and remove some of the many barriers facing people with mental health problems to get active.
The project is already taking place in four locations across England and Wales for 12-18 months:
- England: Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Mind; and West Sussex Mind
- Wales: Mid and North Powys Mind; and Neath Port Talbot Mind.
We are thrilled to announce that it has now been extended to three more local Minds in England: Devon Mind, Islington Mind and Wirral Mind, and one in Wales: Conwy Mind.
People who have taken part in Mind’s previous physical activity programmes say that it not only increased their activity levels over 12 months but also helped them feel more resilient and better able to cope with challenging life events. The hope is that people will benefit similarly from this new programme with Get Active Connectors working one-to-one with participants to provide the right support to get them moving and boost their mood.
Louise, the participant from Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Mind dog walking group, said:
“At first I was quite daunted by joining but it’s just nice to get out and chat and have a walk, with or without a dog. You meet different people each time and it might just be one part of their day when they get to see somebody and talk. It stops you dwelling on things and when you walk you get that peace that makes you feel better.”
Hayley Jarvis, Head of Physical Activity for Mind, said:
“We know that physical activity can play a vital role in the lives of people with mental health problems, reducing the risk of depression by up to 30%. Unfortunately, we also know that many people who do want to move more are being held back by their mental health, whether that’s feelings of low self-confidence, exhaustion, or fear of crowded spaces. Our research suggests that getting active can help improve people’s resilience and build their support networks.
“Getting active can help you to stay well and live well with mental health problems. Our Get Active Connectors can help you to become active in your local community. We are delighted to be working with our charity partner ASICS to support even more people with mental health problems to become more physically active.”
Gary Raucher, Executive Vice President, of ASICS EMEA, said:
“Now more than ever, we need to take action. Recent years have put more strain on the mental health of millions of people. While we know movement can help people feel better, the reality is that people are moving less and less. We want to change that. At ASICS, our five letters have meaning. ASICS is an acronym for the Latin phrase Anima Sana In Corpore Sano or a Sound Mind in a Sound Body. We’ve always believed in the positive impact of movement on the mind and we are delighted to be working with Mind to support even more people to become more physically active.”