A programme which supports people with mental health problems to get active has been launched, as figures show 80 per cent are put off playing sport because they feel self-conscious about their bodies.
New research by mental health charity Mind also shows almost 70 per cent of people feel their mental health makes taking part in sport too difficult.
Get Set to Go, which is backed by Sport England and the National Lottery, will support 75,000 people with mental health problems to join mainstream sports clubs, go to the gym or take up a new sport.
It will help people become more active through sports projects at eight Mind centres: Brent Mind, Croydon Mind, Dudley Mind, Herefordshire Mind, Rochdale and District Mind, Lancashire Mind, Middlesbrough & Stockton Mind and Tyneside Mind.
Those taking part will get one-to-one support from people who understand the challenges a mental health problem can present to getting active.
Fear of judgement
Mike Diaper, Sport England’s Executive Director Community Sport, said: “The research released by Mind mirrors our own which shows that concerns over body confidence, ability and the fear of judgement hold people back from doing sport and exercise. Our own campaign, This Girl Can, seeks to liberate people from these issues so they can get healthier and more active.
“Sport has the power to improve the lives of people with a mental health problem and we’re confident that this programme will really benefit people who take part in it.”
Mind’s research also shows that of those who do take part in sport, more than one in five say it is because their GP or another health professional had recommended it.
Over half of those surveyed, 55 per cent, said they are not members of sports clubs, gyms or leisure centres because they are embarrassed about their body shape or size.
“Our research shows that people with mental health problems do want to participate in sport, however, feelings of low self-confidence, exhaustion or fear of crowded spaces are preventing them from getting started,” said Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind.
“We want more people with mental health problems to be able to enjoy exercising and Get Set to Go will help people to better look after their physical and mental health through sport.”