Yesterday in National Mental Health Awareness Week, we published an infographic designed to help young athletes to look after their mental health. Today, join us for a Mental Health Q&A.
We wanted to share some information on how the Beagles are focused on achieving a balance of mental and physical health for our athletes through the activities of club. This is the second in a series of articles we will be publishing this week to help explain the positive culture we want to cultivate at the club. If you have any questions about the content of our articles this week or want any further support, please do reach out to our mental wellbeing ambassador Jennie – email@example.com
Mental Health Q&A with BBAC’s mental wellbeing ambassador – Jennie Browning-Adams
What is mental health / wellbeing?
Having good mental health is about feeling positive about ourselves and others, being able to form good relationships, and having the resilience to overcome challenges. It includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being which affects how we think, feel, and act. Good mental health can help us be more productive and effective and ultimately perform better – be that at school, work or when competing as athletes.
Why is mental wellbeing important to you?
Mental wellbeing allows me to take care of my mind, lift my mood and even give me more energy. I always make it a priority to make time and do simple things like journaling, taking a walk in nature or listening to relaxing music. Simple methods such as they help clear my headspace and make my self-talk more positive. All of this helps me to achieve balance and ultimately I feel better for it and am in a better place to help others too.
What impact can sport have on mental wellbeing?
One of the key tips for improving mental health is to be physically active – making time every day to do something that gets you moving and gets the endorphins flowing round your body. It doesn’t have to be something really vigorous – just simply going out for a walk is a great starting point. However, we believe that by participating in organised sport, sharing the experience with others and being part of a team helps to keep you motivated and engaged. Setting clear, achievable goals and then beating them is a great natural high and it’s even better when you have a club full of fellow athletes celebrating your success too.
How can parents help support their children in a sporting environment?
Remember that sport can be fun! Children all develop at a different pace and in different ways so great performances as a child doesn’t necessarily translate to Olympic medals and vice versa. In Paula Radcliffe’s first national English school’s cross-country race as a 12-year-old she came 299th! All children have good days and bad days and these don’t necessarily tally up with events we think they will do well in. Competition at a young age really should be about gaining experiences – what does it feel like to compete? What did I learn from that race? How did it make me feel? It really is more important that they are excited about being part of a competition and that they want to be there, than where they finish. And this only comes from making it fun and being proud of them whenever they take part not just when they do well.
How can you help club members?
My role at the club is to ensure that mental wellbeing is a key priority and to be around to listen to the athletes in a completely non-judgemental and independent way. So… I will use my role to promote wellbeing services, to share knowledge of other methods (beyond sport) for improving mental wellbeing and to be vocal on the importance of speaking out if you or someone you know isn’t happy.
England Athletics actively promote a run and talk programme which we happily also adapt to walk and talk session! This basically means that we will operate sessions designed for no other reason than just having a chat with someone who will listen without judgement whilst also doing some exercise. If any of the athletes at the club, or their parents, want to take up this service just get in touch and we will arrange a session for you.
Otherwise please do come and speak to me when I am attending sessions – or encourage your child to – any of the coaches will be happy to allow an athlete to leave their activity to do this whether it’s related to what they are up to at the club or a wider issue. If I’m not there in person drop me an email – Jennie@beagles.org.uk – and I will get in touch. If I can’t help by myself, I will reach out to someone who can and put you in touch with the right support.
On Friday we will be publishing our top wellbeing tips.