Another acronym and no, MHA is not a new form of masters degree, but it is an honour bestowed on a number of the club members that you may well know nothing about, because thus far we have not really advertised it. Before I reveal all, let me give you a bit of the background… and yes this is a cheap trick to try to get you to read more of my write up.
We all know being active is fabulous for your physical health and fitness, but there is much publicity about how it can improve your mental wellbeing. Anybody who remembers the lovely Peter Duncan Gilbert, former chairman and an incredibly eloquent advocate of running, will know how vocal he was on the subject.
I don’t profess to understand the science behind this, I just know from personal experience that it is the case and I am sure that a number of our members can testify to this as well. Recognising this association and link, England Athletics launched a new Mental Health Ambassador programme supported by the charity Mind back in April this year. Nationwide, 128 people have been recruited, from 91 affiliated athletics clubs across the country. Black Pear Joggers are lucky to have 4, the most of ANY club and we are all keen to do a bit of running and talking. This volunteer programme links to #runandtalk, a twitter campaign to improve mental health through running in England.
Okay, without further ado, let me introduce you to your BPJ Mental Health Ambassadors
How did we qualify?
Well we all had to apply for the voluntary position and here is just a brief summary of all of our qualifying experience:
What does the role of MHA entail?
This is our pledge to you:
“We are committed to our cause of improving mental well-being through running”
How will we and can we do this?
We will work with other people in the running club or group (such as committee members or group leaders) to proactively support the mental wellbeing of club/group members. This will entail providing information about local services that can offer support to participants with needs not related to sport.
This will involve making links between the club/group and local mental health groups and organisations to encourage their members to start running.
We will share England Athletics Facebook posts about #runandtalk and other related campaigns and content.
Starting conversations about mental health with other club or group members.
- Being advocates
Sharing guidance and information provided by England Athletics with elected club/group officials and others about mental health issues related to running.
By getting involved and actively participating in volunteer opportunities to support people experiencing mental health problems to start running.
Please note that Mental Health Ambassadors are NOT expected to provide individual or emergency support for people in crisis but there are lots of people who can support and guidance will be provided on how to help people and how to signpost them to relevant organisations and services if necessary. The role of a mental health ambassador is voluntary and will have been provided with the necessary supporting guidance and resources from England Athletics to help in the role.
Available resources include:
- A list of support services and contact details to signpost participants needing support with their mental health.
- Access to Mind’s Mental Health Awareness for Sport and Physical Activity training.
- England Athletics’ ‘Athletics and Mental Health resource’s
- Access to Time to Change Champion e-learning modules
Interested in applying yourself?
There is no restriction as to the number of Mental Health Ambassador a club can have, but to apply you will need a named committee member or Run Leader to support your application.
If you would like to become a mental health ambassador England Athletics are looking for people who are/have:
- Experience of a mental health problem, either personally or from a close relative or friend.
- An open and non-judgmental attitude.
- A member of an England Athletics affiliated club or Run England group.
- A positive, patient and supportive approach towards supporting people with mental health problems.
- A positive role model.
- Behave in a professional, confidential and non-discriminatory manner at all times and promote equal opportunities for all.
For all other information please do not hesitate to contact any of your MHA directly for additional support or assistance.
Steve, James, Bex and Tracy