Olympic gold medal winner Sir Chris Hoy has helped to launch a new partnership between SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and sportscotland to offer mental health training to 400 Active School Coordinators.
The new initiative is designed to help young people protect their mental health through physical activity and sport.
Sir Chris Hoy, who is celebrating 10 years as a SAMH ambassador, was at Tynecastle High School in Edinburgh to meet with sportscotland active schools coordinators who will benefit from the mental health training programme.
He originally launched Get Active, the first sport and physical activity campaign by SAMH, back in 2009 and has spent the last decade helping the charity tackle the barriers that prevent people with mental health problems from improving their physical fitness.
Winner of a record haul of six Olympic gold medals, Sir Chris said: “I’m proud to mark 10 years as a SAMH Ambassador by launching a new partnership that will help the next generation of young people have better mental health through physical activity.
“I’ve experienced some of the biggest highs in sporting history but there have been low points too. During those low moments it was cycling that gave me the strength to keep going.
“I’m a real believer in the link between physical activity and good mental health as I know how my mood and wellbeing can be affected if I don’t manage to get out on my bike regularly.”
Billy Watson, Chief Executive of SAMH, said: “We’re thrilled to announce this strategic partnership with sportscotland which we believe could be a major breakthrough in building the mental health and wellbeing capacities within sports and their organisations.
“sportscotland’s leadership on mental health is setting the standard that we hope others will live up to. It is especially pleasing that we will be getting to work immediately in schools right across Scotland, so our young people can carry a new understanding and resilience around mental wellbeing through sport and physical activity, for generations to follow.”
Stewart Harris, Chief Executive, sportscotland said: “sportscotland was proud to sign up to Scotland’s Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Sport last year but it was always the beginning of our journey, not the end.
“Young people in particular have told us how they sometimes feel participation isn’t for them, especially when they are facing challenges in their lives.
“But they have also shared incredible stories of how sport has turned their lives around through the intervention of a teacher or active schools coordinator.
“That’s why we are working with SAMH to deliver mental health training in schools and communities right across Scotland. If it can help even one young person to cope with mental health problems and allow them to fulfil their potential, that would be a fantastic achievement.”
sportscotland was both a steering group member and one of the first organisations to sign up to Scotland’s Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Sport, a project by SAMH to make sport more accessible to people with mental health problems.
The new partnership will see SAMH and sportscotland working together to deliver the aims of the Charter, as well as creating a learning and development programme for sportscotland staff, developing in-depth mental health and wellbeing programmes and exploring other opportunities for joint work.