Get active and improve your mental health

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West Sussex County Council will be encouraging people to become more active to maintain good mental health during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

The theme for this year’s campaign, which runs from May 13-19, will be physical activity and exercise, highlighting the impact these have on mental health and wellbeing.

Physical activity is often described as something we ‘ought to do’ to avoid developing health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

What’s less often explained is the huge potential it has to enhance our happiness and quality of life and reduce common mental illnesses such as depression.

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which is organised by the Mental Health Foundation, aims to shift our motivation for physical activity to something we choose to do to increase our wellbeing.

Active people are more likely to enjoy life, be healthier and have more of a sense of wellbeing, to meet more people and make new friends, to relax and sleep well, to combat anxiety and depression, to maintain independence and the ability to move easily by keeping their muscles working well and to rely less on others to help with everyday living.

West Sussex County Council will be supporting the aim of the mental health awareness week through various projects such as Reaching Rio, which is encouraging adults to take up more physical activity, and the Big White Wall, which is an online support service on emotional wellbeing and improving mental health.

The county council, through its responsibilities for public health, provides many training programmes to promote emotional wellbeing and mental health, including Peer Mentoring Training Programmes for schools, and other training for areas including Children and Family Centres, Health Visitors, School Nurses, Occupational Therapists and the Prevention Assessment Teams.

Each local Wellbeing service now has Physical Activity Coordinators who can help people return to fitness or activity by finding new activities and setting goals.

The county council also provides lots of information on local walking and cycling routes, safer routes to school, sustainable travel options and local public transport.

Amanda Rogers, West Sussex County Council’s adults’ service director, said: “Our colleagues in the NHS say there is ‘no health without mental health’ and this is true. People experiencing anxiety and depression can take steps to feel better, and benefit their physical health at the same time.”

For more information about the Physical Activity Coordinators, contact the local Wellbeing service, details of which are on West Sussex County Council’s website at www.westsussex.gov.uk or at www.westsussexwellbeing.org.uk.

Residents can seek online support via the Big White Wall at www.bigwhitewall.com.