March 26, 2015

Launch of Mental Health Sports Initiative

Sports bodies are signing up to the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation to help remove stigma and prejudice around mental health

A network of major sporting bodies will stand side by side with the Deputy Prime Minister today to commit to blowing the whistle on mental health discrimination in sport.

For the first time ever, a host of sport organisations – from the Rugby Football Union to the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Football Association – will sign a charter committing to removing the stigma and prejudice around mental health from the pitch to the playground.

The Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation comes from a shared desire among national governing bodies of sport and players associations to raise awareness of, and tackle issues around, mental health.

Nick Clegg has hailed this as a “momentous day” for the nation’s mental health, where the power of sport will be harnessed to bring mental health out of the shadows and help put an end to people suffering in silence.

With exercise proven to be as effective as antidepressants for those with mild clinical depression, the charter will also encourage more people to take up sport to help with their mental and physical health.

Progress on mental health

The launch of the charter is part of a wider campaign by the Deputy Prime Minister to bring treatment for mental health problems out of the shadows and in line with physical health.

As part of the budget last week, he announced:

  • a £1.25 billion investment to bring about a seismic shift and revolutionise children’s mental healthcare – the money will be used over a 5-year period to help treat 110,000 more children with access to mental health services, as well as rapid access to mental health treatment for new mothers
  • £37 million over the next 3 years to help up to 40,000 people with mental health issues back into work by providing treatment at job centres, including access to talking therapies and online mental health services
  • £8.5 million investment over 5 years to 10 dedicated veterans mental health teams to increase support and treatment for servicemen and women with some of the most complex mental health needs

And in government he has helped build a strong foundation for the improvement of mental health services, including:

  • setting up and leading the first ever Mental Health Taskforce with senior ministers from across the coalition
  • securing a £400 million investment over the course of this parliament to improve access to talking therapies
  • £150 million investment for treatment and support for children and young adults with eating disorders
  • introducing ground-breaking waiting time and access standards to put a limit on the length of time people have to wait for treatment, backed up by more than £120 million investment
  • £54 million for the Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme
  • £7 million investment to fund 50 new inpatient beds for children and young people

Key stats on mental health

  • 1 in 6 people experience a mental health problem every day and there is a staggering cost of £105.2 billion a year to the economy from mental ill health; NHS and social care costs are over £21 billion a year whilst sick leave absence and unemployment costs are as high as £30 billion a year
  • physical activity in natural environments is associated with a reduction in the risk of poor mental health to a greater extent than physical activity in other environments
  • the annual short-term costs of emotional, conduct and hyperkinetic mental health disorders among children aged between 5 and 15 in the UK is estimated to be £1.58 billion and the long-term costs £2.35 billion
  • 75% of adult mental health problems begin before age 18
  • mental illness is the single largest cause of disability in the UK: 1 in 4 people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
  • there is also a strong relationship between mental ill health and physical ill health: people with long-term illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension have double the rate of depression in comparison to the general population, and where people have 2 or more long term physical illnesses the chance of depression is an alarming 7 times higher; furthermore,mental ill health increases the risk of physical ill health – for adults, depression doubles the risk of coronary heart disease and leads to a 50% increase in the risk of mortality
  • obesity and mental health have a two-way relationship: obese people have a 55% increased risk of developing depression over time when compared to people of a healthy weight, and people with depression have a 58% increased risk of becoming obese
  • obese children are also more likely than non-obese children to experience psychological or psychiatric problems including low self-esteem, depression, conduct disorders and reduced school performance and social functioning
  • physical activity is as effective as medication in treating depression: a 16-week study of 202 men and women found that 45% of patients diagnosed with major depression no longer met the criteria for depression after exercising 3 times a week in a supervised group setting – this is on a par with the 47% of patients who no longer met the criteria after taking anti-depressants
  • regular exercise can reduce the risk of dementia by up to a third through increased cognitive function, improved memory and better maintenance of brain connectivity
  • regular physical activity improves cognitive function in older people with and without existing impairments, reduces anxiety and improves mental well being.