A leading mental health charity has revealed new evidence about the positive effects of exercise on conditions like depression.
The Scottish Association for Mental Health unveiled the results of an evaluation of its Get Active Community Engagement Pilot Project on Tuesday at Dundee Football Club's ground.
Delivered in partnership between SAMH and organisations across the country, more than 600 people participated in the activities for the project, which ranged from football and tennis to walking and gardening. The majority of those involved had personally experienced a mental health problem.
The evaluation has shown the life-changing effect on participants’ mental health and wellbeing with 91% of those involved reporting that taking part made them feel happier. A further 81% said they had increased confidence, 87% said they had learned new skills and 82% reported that the projects had helped them to be more active in their daily lives.
On Tuesday the results were revealed at an event at Dens Park, home of newly promoted SPL team Dundee, which also marked a new partnership between SAMH, the PFA Scotland (Professional Footballers Association) and ‘see me’, Scotland’s national campaign to end stigma and discrimination of mental ill-health. The organisations have teamed up to provide players with information about mental health and to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health within the football community.
Ian Crawford, SAMH’s Get Active programme manager, said: "Participants got involved in the Get Active pilots for a variety of reasons, from improving fitness to getting out of the house. Many of those involved were surprised and inspired by the level of impact their involvement had on their physical health, and how much they benefited in terms of their mental health, confidence and outlook on life. We are delighted by the results and are looking forward to the next phase."
Robert Hare, who took part in a Get Active football project run with Street Soccer Scotland, said: "When I went to prison, I lost my home, my girlfriend and my job. I believed I had hit rock bottom and I had no one to blame but myself. Street Soccer Scotland and SAMH have helped me to turn my life around again. I don't know where I'd be in life if I hadn't found this help."
Suzie Vestri, campaign director of 'see me', said: "We welcome the commitment of the PFA Scotland to work in partnership with ‘see me’ and SAMH to protect and encourage football players across Scotland with a strong anti-stigma message. It’s important to remember that one in four Scots will be affected by mental health problems at some point in their lives. It can happen to sports stars, family members or friends. For those experiencing mental ill-health, the support we provide to each other will make all the difference."