New training course to help sports coaches handle mental health issues

Two women playing netball (pic Sport England)

Two women playing netball (pic Sport England) - Credit: Archant

With one in four people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year, 1st4sport, Mind, Sport England and UK Coaching have collaborated to create a new online training course to help.

Coaches and sport and physical activity providers will be able to increase their knowledge of mental health, and confidence when applying the learning into their coaching practice.

With funding from Sport England and the National Lottery and subject matter expertise from Mind, Mental Health Awareness for Sport and Physical Activity will not only equip everyone who delivers coaching in clubs, community sport and physical activity with the skills to support and engage people experiencing mental health problems, but also support more people with mental health problems to become and remain physically active.

Specifically, the new course will help learners to welcome and support people living with mental health problems in their sport and physical activity sessions, increase their knowledge of mental health problems, apply the learning in their coaching practice, make their club or organisation more inclusive.

The launch of the course coincides with Coaching Week, the national campaign for coaching, which brings together clubs, coaches, community groups, education, businesses and the public to showcase and explore how coaches can play a greater role in building healthier, happier communities.

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UK Coaching's CEO Mark Gannon said: "We are proud to have worked collectively with Mind on this project to develop a learning programme that helps coaches support people if they're experiencing mental health problems and need help.

"This year's Coaching Week looks to explore what coaching can do for people and their communities. With over three million coaches providing sport and physical activity to over 14 million adults and children every year, it is paramount that coaches have access to guidance and learning that equips them to guide, support and inspire their participants so that they might thrive."

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1st4sport's Head of Learning and Assessment John Clark said: "We are delighted to have worked with Mind to develop this online learning for the sport and physical activity sector. I believe that coaching through the medium of sport and physical activity can play a massive part in maintaining people's mental well-being and aiding recovery.

"It is hugely important that we provide the resources that can increase people's awareness and understanding of mental well-being, especially when it comes to tackling stigma and discrimination."

Mind's Head of Physical Activity Hayley Jarvis, said: "We know that people with mental health problems face additional barriers to getting physically active, whether that's self-consciousness, cost or symptoms like feeling tired or putting on weight. That's why we're pleased to have worked closely with Sport England, UK Coaching and 1st4sport to create this new eLearning course.

"We hope that convenient, accessible training for coaches will ultimately mean more people with mental health problems feel able to get active, as well as giving coaches more resources in their locker to look after their own mental health, as well as their peers."

Sport England's Head of Coaching Stuart Armstrong added: "We know that those who take part in sport and physical activity have improved mental health and resilience across all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. But too many people struggling with their mental health feel like they can't take part and get active.

"Everyone should be able to access the huge benefits of an active lifestyle - especially those with mental health problems as the impact regular activity can have on their lives can be that much more transformational.

"That's why Sport England is investing National Lottery funding and working with Mind and UK Coaching on the Get Set to Go programme, to make sure that coaches, and all those who provide activity, feel confident to support people with mental health problems to get active.

"We are delighted to be working on such an innovative eLearning course and hope to see coaches and activity providers widen their skills to help build resilience, confidence and self-esteem, make their session more inclusive, support mental health recovery and tackle mental health stigma and discrimination."

UK Coaching's own research has demonstrated the positive association between coaching and mental health; mutually benefiting both the coach and the participant.

And just recently, Minister for Sport Mims Davies set out her priorities for 'increasing access to sport and improving health and well-being' in her speech at the launch of UK Sport's future funding strategy.

Davies talked of the positive impact that sport and physical activity has on the nation's health and well-being, as well as taking the pressure off our health and social care systems.

Everyone who delivers coaching in clubs, community sport and physical activity - such as coaches, activators, sports administrators, front of house staff and volunteers - will benefit from the course.

The online course costs £15 (excluding VAT) and is available for everyone to access through

1st4sport recognised centres can access the online course for groups of learners via can enjoy volume discounts.

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