Riding instructors are able to access free mental health training as part of a UK Coaching initiative.
The news comes as part of Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May) and the scheme is running in partnership with 1st4sport, Mind and Sport England.
It is open to “everyone who usually delivers coaching in a club, leisure centre or any other community sports and physical activity setting – such as coaches, activators, sports administrators, front of house staff, volunteers and fitness instructors and personal trainers”.
The online course usually costs £18, but will be free to access until 31 August.
“Considering the challenges, we are all facing, it was right for us to come together to support coaches by removing the financial obstacle of accessing this essential course,” said Sport England’s coaching development manager Sion Kitson.
“People enjoying high quality physical activity is central to the mental and physical wellbeing of the nation. Despite the lockdown, coaches have worked doubly hard to find amazing ways to keep people active. Hopefully, this small gesture will go a long way towards continuing their professional development.”
The course is recognised to provide attendees with three continuing professional development points, as awarded by the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity.
The aim of the course is to help coaches increase their knowledge of mental health, and their confidence when incorporating the learning into their teaching practices.
It covers welcoming and supporting people living with mental health problems, in their sessions, increasing knowledge of mental health problems, how to apply the learning into their day-to-day coaching and how to make clubs and organisations more inclusive.
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UK Coaching’s director of coaching Emma Atkins said the organisation wanted to honour the Mental Health Awareness Week’s theme of kindness by taking away the “financial burden of an essential piece of coach learning and development”.
“During this time, we are seeing more coaches using online learning, and this course is one that we know coaches enjoy and benefit from putting what they have learnt into practice. This is vital as we return to play over the coming months,” she said.
“There will be many of us who will have found this extended period of isolation difficult, and many of us who will find the ‘new normal’ that awaits us after lockdown equally challenging. Coaches are key conduits in helping communities to thrive and prosper. We will need them now more than ever before to help us get back running, mentally, as well as physically.”
Mind’s head of physical activity Hayley Jarvis added that the charity is “really proud” to be involved.
“We know physical activity can play a vital role in improving and maintaining mental health, but that many people with mental health problems face additional barriers to getting active, whether inside or outdoors,” she said.
“Coaches and coaching organisations are in a fantastic position to make a real difference to the lives of people with mental health problems, so we are delighted this online course is now freely available for the whole coaching community.”