The road to fit­ness will boost men­tal health

Leisure chiefs back new drive

Wishaw Press - - FRONT PAGE - Ross Thom­son

North La­nark­shire Leisure have an­nounced they are ex­tend­ing its Get Ac­tive pro­gramme to teenagers and those ex­pe­ri­enc­ing men­tal health prob­lems.

The new teen pro­gramme means that GPs can tar­get those young peo­ple not cur­rently ac­tive and give them ac­cess to a range of ac­tiv­i­ties ap­pro­pri­ate to their age.

And for the first time, men­tal health will be in­cluded as part of the cri­te­ria for re­fer­ral.

The change in pol­icy comes in the wake of this news­pa­per’s Time to Talk cam­paign.

Emma Walker, manag­ing di­rec­tor of North La­nark­shire Leisure, said: “We ab­so­lutely agree with the Wishaw Press about the ben­e­fits to young peo­ple’s men­tal health of ex­er­cise and ac­cess. That’s why we’ve de­cided to ex­tend our Ac­tive Health pro­grammes to teens.

“We’ll be no­ti­fy­ing NHS La­nark­shire of this ex­ten­sion and for the first time will be in­clud­ing men­tal health as part of our cri­te­ria.

“But this is just the first step. We’ll be work­ing with the coun­cil to dis­cuss how we can ex­tend re­fer­rals to teach­ers, ed­u­ca­tional psy­chol­o­gists and oth­ers.

“We’ll also be con­sid­er­ing if we can ex­tend re­fer­rals to char­i­ties and other third sec­tor groups too. I ex­pect this will ben­e­fit thou­sands of young peo­ple across North La­nark­shire and get them ac­tive.

“We take sui­cide preven­tion ex­tremely se­ri­ously and again are run­ning the an­nual Sui­cide Preven­tion foot­ball tour­na­ment at Raven­scraig and, later in the year, we’ll be run­ning our Bounce­back to Net­ball and Foot­ball Sui­cide Preven­tion tour­na­ments for S5 and S6 pupils.”

On re­fer­ral, Get Ac­tive teens will get eight free weeks of NLL mem­ber­ship and three ad­di­tional months at the re­duced rate of £10 per month (nor­mally £17).

The cur­rent Get Ac­tive pro­gramme, for those over 16, is avail­able for re­fer­ral for peo­ple with a range of con­di­tions. Since it be­gan in 2013, there have been nearly 5,000 re­fer­rals from GPs and other health­care pro­fes­sion­als, with more than 62,000 ses­sions at­tended.

NL Leisure have also an­nounced that all devel­op­ment of­fi­cers and head coaches for di­ver­sion­ary pro­grammes will at­tend Ap­plied Sui­cide In­ter­ven­tion train­ing, with all coaches to com­plete a Safe Talk work­shop, al­low­ing them to help a young per­son who ap­proaches them with low mood or sui­ci­dal thoughts.

In ad­di­tion to Get Ac­tive Teens, NLL host ac­tiv­i­ties aimed at young peo­ple at week­ends and dur­ing the hol­i­days.

The Satur­day Night Project pro­vides a safe, fun en­vi­ron­ment for young peo­ple to so­cialise with friends. And it’s free.

Ev­ery Satur­day night, Wishaw and Shotts leisure cen­tres are closed to ev­ery­one ex­cept young peo­ple.

The Satur­day Night Project is de­signed by young peo­ple them­selves.

There’s an op­por­tu­nity to play and try a whole va­ri­ety of sports in­clud­ing foot­ball, dance, badminton and swim­ming. Ev­ery week there are var­i­ous com­pe­ti­tions lead­ing to an an­nual event.

At Shotts, the project is open to peo­ple aged be­tween eight and 17, while at Wishaw it’s for those aged be­tween nine and 17. The project runs be­tween 6pm and 10pm.

Emma Walker added: “We recog­nise that it’s im­por­tant for young peo­ple to be able to take part in sport and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

“Not only does it pro­mote a healthy life­style but we know that tak­ing part in sport can have a pos­i­tive im­pact on men­tal health.

“And it means that young peo­ple can so­cialise and make friends in a safe en­vi­ron­ment.

“The Satur­day Night Pro­jects are free at Wishaw and Shotts and young peo­ple them­selves have a huge say in what ac­tiv­i­ties we do.”

We ab­so­lutely agree about the ben­e­fits to young peo­ple’s men­tal health of ex­er­cise and ac­cess Emma Walker


Leisure chief Emma Walker

Top team The Wishaw Satur­day Night Project

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