‘Something Matt would be proud of’: Riders Minds launches new support in Mental Health Awareness Week

  • During 2021 Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May) plans for a new vital resource to help riders get more support have been revealed.

    Mental health organisation Riders Minds, which celebrates its first birthday this week, will launch a new text and web chat service in the near future. The charity was founded by the late event rider Matthew Wright and his wife, Victoria, with support from a number of companies, and with the British Grooms Association and Equestrian Employers Association acting as consultants.

    Following 38-year-old Matthew’s death on 15 February, supporters donated thousands of pounds to the organisation, which has been used to fund the new service.

    “Adding a live chat and text service to the Riders Minds helpline was critically important and it is because of the generosity of other people that this became possible,” said Victoria.

    “Matthew always said to me ‘men can’t just pick up the phone and talk to someone they don’t even know’, and after everything that’s happened I couldn’t get this out of my mind. We had to do something and something that Matt would be proud of.”

    Victoria added that the organisation will continue to work hard to improve the service provided by Riders Minds and in doing so “hopefully save more lives”.

    “We will work hard to remove the stigma of suicide. No bereaved person should ever have to read that word on a death certificate. It’s not suicide, it’s an illness,” she said.

    “Riders Minds wants to ensure that we improve the mental wellbeing of all equestrian people and that with our help and the services provided, you can and will get better.”

    At the start of May the organisation launched the 100 Miles for Riders Minds virtual challenge encouraging people to ride, walk, run or cycle 100 miles to raise awareness of the mental health support available to the equestrian industry. Individuals or teams can take part and the challenge is still welcoming new participants: https://ridersminds.org/news/26/100-miles-for-riders-minds.

    Other initiatives by the organisation launching this week include a small selection of branded clothing, with all profits going to the organisation’s work, and a new section on the Riders Minds website for those supporting others struggling with mental health.

    Racing Welfare, a charity supporting the workforce of British horseracing, is also supporting Mental Health Awareness Week. This year’s theme is nature and the racing charity has launched a digital campaign highlighting the importance of engaging with the natural world to benefit mental health. A video produced in conjunction with Equine Productions and the staff at trainer Andrew Balding’s Kingsclere training operation will be released this week.

    The charity is also highlighting a survey, launched by the Industry Wellbeing Committee, a committee made up of industry-wide professionals, to gather “crucial baseline data” on the wellbeing of the sport’s entire workforce. The survey, which closes on Sunday (16 May) can be taken here: https://horseracingindustry.gooddayatwork.co.uk/Login.aspx

    “The results of the survey will be fundamental in enabling real improvement in the health and wellbeing of racing’s people going forward, by informing the wellbeing strategy and the kind of support which will be provided to employers and employees alike,” said a Racing Welfare spokesman.

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    Racing Welfare chief executive Dawn Goodfellow said Mental Health Awareness Week is a “hugely important” campaign for the charity and the racing industry.

    “We are proud to lead the initiative on behalf of racing again this year. I hope the week raises awareness of the help available through Racing Welfare and that anyone in need of support feels able to get in touch with us,” she said.

    “I would encourage everyone who works in the sport to complete the wellbeing survey. This is a fantastic opportunity to have your say and shape the future of workplaces right across the industry.”

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