Blog entry by Niall Judge
Kicking 2021 off with a nationwide lockdown means it's
already shaping up to be another tough year. We are feeling the strain across
all areas of life, but especially in the sport and physical activity sector,
where lots of our activities, clubs and groups have once again had to hit the
pause button as we are asked to stay at home.
I am always proud to work for Mind, but it’s times like this that I realise
just how much our services are needed.
Mental health problems are more common than people think, with one in four of us experiencing them each year. This has undoubtedly been exacerbated by the pandemic. Many people in touch with us say their mental health has worsened as they experience loneliness, bereavement, the impacts of juggling home schooling, not seeing friends and family, redundancy, being furloughed and the impact of not being able to do the things that they enjoy.
Some recent surveys asked people about the impact that the pandemic has had on them. There were some stark findings for the physical activity sector to reflect on:
- Our own survey found that more than half of adults (60%) and two-thirds of young people (68%) felt their mental health had got worse during lockdown.2
- The Club Matters’ survey found that 56% of participants and 68% of volunteers felt some level of anxiety about returning to play in a club or group environment.3
- Sport England found that in November 2020, more than 40% of people worried about leaving their home to be active.4
We also know that children and young people’s mental health was worsening pre-pandemic with one in ten children experiencing mental health problems back in 2017. New research from the NHS Digital in 2020 showed that has increased to one in six children and young people.
While awareness of mental health is growing, sadly not everyone feels able to seek support. Our research showed a third of adults (31%) and just over a quarter of young people (28%) did not access support because they did not think their issue was serious enough. We’ve teamed up with Club Matters to help share information and resources to help you and your organisation through this difficult time. We want to get the message out there that support is available and spread the word that mental health is everyone’s responsibility.
We’ve worked together to develop resources for both the professional workforce and for clubs or groups, to help start or rekindle important conversations about mental health and returning to play. We know people can find it hard to find the words to talk about mental health, so sometimes they say nothing at all. It all starts with a simple ‘How are you feeling?’. A small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference. Our colleagues at Time to Change have some great resources to get started, including as part of Time to Talk Day (a well-established day to get the nation talking) which took place on Thursday 4th February 2021. You can find our resource pack designed especially for sports clubs and groups here.
You are not alone. If you or someone you know are struggling right now, it’s important to talk to someone you trust, such as a loved one, friend or colleague. It is normal to have good days and bad days, especially during a pandemic, but if your mental health is stopping you doing the things that you enjoy, is affecting your work and relationships and these feelings are lasting two weeks or more, it may be that you need further support. Reach out to your GP or Mind using the details below.
Be gentle with yourself and each other. “You can do anything, but not everything” is a quote by David Allen, a professional cricketer, that resonates with me. We are in the midst of one of the most challenging times of our lives, it is important that we acknowledge this and think about our own self-care in order for us to support others.
Take care and stay safe.
InfoLine: 0300 123 3393 is open Monday – Friday 9am-6pm (except bank holidays)
The Mind Infoline can help you find specialist services in your area.
Side by Side is Mind’s online community where you can listen, share and be heard https://sidebyside.mind.org.uk/