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Sport England grants £1.5m for initiative improving mental wellbeing through physical activity.

Sport England has earmarked £1.5m to extend the Get Set To Go scheme, which encourages people with mental health issues to join mainstream sports clubs, go to the gym or take up a new sport.

Run by mental health charity Mind, the initiative was launched as a pilot in 2016, and has since provided more than 3,500 people with physical activities – ranging from football, badminton and walking to gym sessions and boccia.

The physical activities are combined with group and one on one peer support, and access to Mind’s safe and supportive online social network Elefriends.

According to research undertaken on the pilot’s results, participants in Get Set To Go felt "significantly more supported” to engage with physical activities and had increased the number of days on which they took part in physical activity by, on average, 1.3 days.

They also felt it improved their resilience and their ability to deal with anxiety, panic attacks, and even suicidal thoughts.

Mind’s research suggests that nearly 70 per cent of people with mental health problems feel that their mental health makes taking part in physical activity too difficult.

The £1.5m grant will now significantly expand the scheme and could potentially see up to 2.8m people with mental health problems benefit from Get Set To Go.

Funding will see specialist training and information will be given to more than 30,000 sport and physical activity staff and volunteers.

Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, said: "We know that physical activity can play a vital role in the lives of people with mental health problems, reducing the risk of depression by up to 30 per cent”.

"Unfortunately we also know that many people who do want to participate in sport are being held back by their mental health, whether that’s feelings of low self-confidence, exhaustion or fear of crowded spaces”.

"Our own research showed that four-fifths (80 per cent) of people with mental health problems are put off sport because they feel self-conscious about their bodies and almost 70 per cent feel their mental health makes taking part too difficult. Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) were also worried about taking part in sport by themselves”.

"The findings of the Get Set to Go programme show us that it works as a model; improving participants’ resilience and building their support networks, particularly through peer support, which harnesses the power of people’s own experiences to support others and be supported”.

"With Sport England’s backing, we look forward to working even more closely with the sport and physical activity sector to build on the success of Get Set to Go over the next three years.”