For many people, sporting activity can be a lifesaver. To what extent, is impossible to say but there is no doubt that playing or spectating can be more than simply an escape. It can prove to be beneficial to a person’s overall mental wellbeing.

Little Sports Coaching currently organises weekly Character Education Mentoring sessions within local primary schools across the North-West, with one of the aims being to support the mental well-being of young people.

The sessions are split into two; a positive, interactive, classroom-based session which is themed to encourage children to open up and really think about the topic, the school community around them and the environment in which they live. Those ideas and thoughts are then taken into the second half of the session, which is PE and Sports based. The activities provide children with a focus to not only aid their individual skills but also to work alongside their peers to achieve a common objective.

Jake Goodhall, LSC Lead Mentor at Lyndhurst Primary School, commented “Since we have started the session, over 18 months ago, we have seen a significant improvement in a number of pupil’s behaviour and outlook.” “The sessions encourage the children to explore their feelings and to adopt a positive approach to their day to day tasks. Working with us, their friends and teachers, the programme has dramatically improved the pupils performance in the classroom, as well as their attitude outside of it.”

Mental Health Charity, Mind, believe that sport can have a great impact when it comes your wellbeing.They state “In recent years, several sports men and women have spoken openly about their mental health. The sporting sector in the UK has also recognised the need to challenge stigma and start positive conversations about mental health from grassroots through to elite levels.”

Several sportsmen and women have had very open struggles with their health whilst being in the public eye. Former Burnley FC defender, Clarke Carlisle, is just one of many examples. He now works with Mind and believes that the support for athletes is still nowhere near adequate; he also argues that football can lead the way in promoting change.

Wendy Enberg from Mental Health Matters, a charity based in Warrington, said “Being active while living with a mental health condition is challenging, but the rewards can definitely be worth it. Exercise releases important chemicals in our brains like dopamine that allow us to feel a ‘natural’ high that can improve mood.”

“Providing access to recreational facilities, along with instructors to help motivate a person would be beneficial in helping treat mental illness.”

“Many organisations charged with helping people live successfully with mental illness would benefit from incorporating exercise and nutrition instruction into their treatment programs.”

“Speaking from personal experience, I do feel a better sense of well-being when I can engage in some physical activity each day. I do struggle to maintain my motivation and would benefit from the structure of an exercise program that includes instruction, support and affordability would go a long way to helping me break the cycle of inactivity.”

If you’d like to know more information about the Little Sports Character Education Programme, please contact them via info@littlesportscoaching.co.uk