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AoC Sport and Mind launch partnership to develop mental health projects in colleges

17 June 2020

AoC Sport and Mind are launching a partnership which aims to develop mental health and physical activity projects for colleges. As part of Mind’s Sector Support programme, funded by Sport England and the National Lottery, AoC Sport will become one of their operational partners. The programme aims to equip more sport and physical activity providers with the skills to support and engage people with mental health problems in physical activity. The partnership, which will run until the end of March 2021, will build on AoC Sport’s existing mental health activities, including their ‘Improving mental wellbeing in colleges through physical activity’ project. The findings from the project demonstrate that physical activity can support students in colleges to improve their mental wellbeing. The average college has 185 students with disclosed mental health conditions. In addition to this 81% of colleges have reported having ‘significant numbers’ of students who have undisclosed mental health difficulties (Association of Colleges, 2017). The partnership between the organisations will focus on two projects:
  1. Creating bespoke tutorial resources for the FE sector around mental health and the benefits of physical activity.
  2. Developing a Mental Health Ambassador programme as part of the AoC Sport Leadership Academy.
The tutorial resources are aimed at reaching students with mental health problems or those at risk of developing mental health problems to become more active. The resources will be designed so any member of college staff can deliver. Colleges can then adapt them to fit the structure of their tutorial program. The role of the Mental Health Ambassadors will be to act as a buddy to support students with low levels of mental wellbeing or diagnosed mental health problems to become more active and promote the benefits of physical activity on mental health. AoC Sport and Mind will design and deliver training for staff that they can then deliver to their Ambassadors. As an operational partner AoC Sport will receive support developing these two projects as well as mental health guidance during the 12-month partnership. Dean Hardman, AoC Director of Sport and Student Experience said: “We know the positive impact that physical activity can have on mental health, so we at AoC Sport are very pleased to be partnering with Mind to support colleges, their staff and students. “This partnership is being established at a very important time, as the whole country comes to terms with changes brought about by the current public health crisis. We recognise it is a growing issue for members and working on mental health projects will remain a priority for AoC in both the short and long term.” Hayley Jarvis, Head of Physical Activity for Mind, said: “We know that physical activity can play a vital role in the lives of people with mental health problems. It can reduce the risk of depression by up to 30% and can improve people’s resilience and ability to cope. "Unfortunately, we also know that half of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14, rising to 75% by the age of 24. As a result, we are delighted to be partnering with AoC Sport to develop projects to support colleges and their students around mental health.” Sign up to use the tutorial resources We are looking for colleges to use the resources during 2020/21. There will be a series of activities with accompanying slides covering mental health and physical activity, that can be adapted to fit into different college tutorial structures. There will also be visual resources including graphics and posters that can be displayed around the college to show the importance of being physically active as well as the recommended amount and types of activity. To register your college to use the resources please complete this form.