Mental health alliance: Welsh Athletics and Mind Cymru sign two-year partnership. MIND CYMRU

Welsh Athletics and Mind Cymru have launched a new collaboration to promote mental wellbeing through sport. As a part of the initiative, Mind will provide training to appoint mental health champions in all of Wales' 100 athletic clubs and 60 social running groups.

Welsh Athletics and Mind Cymru have formed a pioneering partnership in Wales to promote mental wellbeing within the running community. This collaboration uses the power of sport to advocate for the wider benefits of physical activity. 

It will identify mental health champions in clubs and social running groups across Wales who will be empowered to confidently start conversations to support or improve the wellbeing of those experiencing mental health problems, challenge stigma and signpost to mental health services, help spread the mental health benefits of exercise within communities and support people to start, continue or return to running.

"We are incredibly aware of the impact and scale of our sport, with almost 500,000 people in Wales running regularly. The opportunity to use the power of running to support improvements in mental wellbeing is huge, and this partnership will enable us to build a sustainable network of support that will have a lasting impact across all parts of Wales." 

James Williams, CEO of Welsh Athletics, said. Studies show that physical activity helps the brain to focus and acts as a constructive coping mechanism during challenging times. It also has the potential to boost self-esteem and reduce the likelihood of depression by up to 30%, according to the UK Department of Health & Social Care. 

"Running is one of the most accessible and affordable ways to be active. We hope that this partnership will not only improve mental health through sport, but also encourage more people to take part by offering a supportive, welcoming and open space," said Sue O'Leary, Executive Director of Mind Cymru.

"There is good evidence that being more physically active can have real benefits for mental wellbeing. These include better sleep, happier moods, and effective management of stress, anxiety and intrusive thoughts," remarked O'Leary. 

Mental health is one of the areas that professionals have been focusing on recently. This collaboration can address this issue through sport. "The partnership will also improve the approach to mental health within Welsh Athletics and its programmes by embedding mental health within existing programmes and communities," concluded James Williams.