Mental Health Matters

No one can deny that COVID has taught us many lessons, one of the biggest of which is that mental health matters.

As a GP, I am currently not seeing anywhere near as many patients face to face each day. I am, however, still speaking to as many patients about their mental health.

In fact, a bigger percentage of my day than usual is being spent supporting patients in their mental wellbeing.

Yes, thousands are sadly dying from COVID 19. But we cannot forget those who are dying as a result of anxiety and depression. We must not forget.

Over the last few weeks I have been struck by the sheer number of people who feel they are running out of hope. Many are reaching the point where they feel unable to carry on. A large proportion of those are young men.

Often it’s a friend or family member who calls for advice.

Why? Well, often they themselves don’t know how to ask for help. Sometimes they feel there is no help out there.

Help is out there

Help is out there.

There is support from the local NHS Mental Health Teams. There are some well known Nationwide Organisations such as the Samaritans and Breathing Space.

But there is also great support available from smaller charities who are doing some amazing work. These charities are saving lives on a daily basis.

One of the charities that I often suggest my patients get in touch with is ‘Back Onside’.

Back Onside

Back Onside is an independent Scotland wide charity.
(Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Number SCO48082)

The Team at Back Onside realise that mental health encompasses your emotional psychological and social well-being.

Back Onside has 3 goals

  • Promote self confidence
  • Raise self esteem
  • Unlock inner potential

They work with individuals and teams to tackle mental illness. They offer support and encourage recovery through sport focussed activities.


Back Onside is committed to helping young people and adults who face mental health challenges. This may be due to social exclusion, disability or challenging life circumstances.

They deliver programmes and workshops; focused around sport, music, drama and art. Back Onside supports and relieves mental health obstacles through peer-support. They encourage participation in activities that encourage good health and well-being.

Alongside their programmes and workshops, Back Onside work with the wider community to raise awareness of social issues, mental health and disabilities to help reduce the stigma and discrimination which often surrounds these areas.

A message from Libby about Sport and Mental Health

Libby Emmerson is the CEO and founder of Back Onside.

Libby very kindly took the time to put together some information about how sport can help improve your mental health for our blog this week.

Mental Health affects one in four of the population at any one time. Despite this, it is recognised that only a quarter of those suffering receive ongoing treatment. This leaves the majority of people tackling their symptoms with no support.

There are numerous ways and steps people can take to improve their wellbeing.

Participating in sport is a brilliant way to keep your body and mind well. 

Physical Activity and Mental Health

Physical activity allows you to escape the stresses of everyday life and can provide you a clear focus to stay positive.

Exercising releases endorphins – a chemical responsible for euphoria. So whether you’re exercising at home, participating in team sport or simply going a walk then your body releases endorphins to your brain which improves your mood. 

Regular exercise can improve your sleeping pattern. A good night’s sleep is so important to be in positive mood – ready to attack the day. It also has many other health benefits!

Life is stressful – everyone will face pressures every day. By exercising you distract your brain from these worries. This reduces stress hormone levels in the body which makes it easier to relax. 

Taking part in sports can help improve your confidence and it allows you to talk to people. Engaging in team sports or exercise classes helps you meet people with similar interests. You can therefore socialise in a relaxed environment and make new friends.

It’s important to feel good about yourself in life – from exercising you will feel better in your body and your self-confidence will improve.

For men, there can be a stigma around mental health – people are anxious to speak out about their struggles.

Footballers aren’t immune from suffering from mental health issues. By seeing your heroes speak out, it can empower people to know they’re not alone. 

Like all sports, playing football can have huge health benefits – physically and mentally.

Being part of a football team can bring a sense of belonging and togetherness. This creates a comfortable environment to speak about your problems. 

How can staying active help during lockdown?

During this lockdown, keeping check on your mental health is so important. Exercising can really help you stay on top of things. The government are allowing you to go for a walk, run or cycle for an hour a day. This is to help your mental health.

Best Wishes


Fore more information on how you can get support from Back Onside, or if you just want to find out more about the amazing work Libby and her team do follow the links above or check out their youtube channel.

If you are looking for something to keep yourself occupied over the next few weeks why not take part in their May challenge?

For more advice aobut mental health have a look at some of our other blogs.

If you need help or support with your mental health here are some other useful numbers:

  • Samaritans — 116 123
  • Breathing Space — 0800 83 85 87
  • Alcoholics Anonymous — 0800 9177 650
  • National Gambling Helpline — 0808 8020 133
  • Narcotics Anonymous — 0300 999 121
  • NHS 24 — 101
  • Emergency Services — 999

If you feel that you or the person in question is unable to stay safe, always contact 999 immediately and seek emergency support.

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