StreetGames is launching a UK-wide campaign to train 5000 sport coaches and community leaders in mental health awareness by 2021.
The national charity is calling on the sporting world, business and policy-makers to help them safeguard young people's mental health and recognise it as being just as important as physical health.
StreetGames wants to work with as many partner organisations as possible to help them build a fully-trained national workforce of coaches for whom mental health awareness just as essential as basic first aid.
By training people who deliver community sport it is hoped they will be able to spot the signs and symptoms of mental health issues in young people early and can be equipped with the skills and confidence to make effective interventions.
As StreetGames help over 900 community organisations in the UK deliver sport in disadvantaged communities, they are well placed to place sport in a leading role to combat the growth of reported mental health issues in young people.
Jane Ashworth OBE, Chief Executive Officer of StreetGames, said: "Half of all long-term mental illnesses in adults have their onset by the age of 15. Coaches already report seeing the signs of emotional problems amongst participants on a daily basis. They also say they don’t feel confident about stepping in, and that stigma around mental health is a barrier to starting conversations.
"Sport, delivered in the right way, can have a very positive impact on young people’s confidence, self-esteem and resilience – all powerful protective factors for their wellbeing. A coach who is 'mental health aware' can do a lot to keep young people feeling positive, and be able to step in when they are struggling.
"Young people themselves say they will turn to family, friends and trusted adults such as coaches and youth workers, before they talk to a health professional. Our pledge to train 5000 sports coaches and community leaders by 2021 is sport’s contribution to the health and wellbeing of our current and future generations. 5000 coaches and volunteers who are 'mental health aware' will ensure young people get the most out of their sport, and thrive.
"We pledge to train 5000 sports coaches and community leaders in mental health awareness so that they are as confident responding to anxiety as they are to a sprained ankle."
For more information and to become a signatory to the '5000 by 2021' pledge, click here.
Read ConnectSport's recent in-depth interview with StreetGames CEO Jane Ashworth OBE here.