New programme from Sport in Mind supporting young people’s mental health through tennis
• 3 MINUTE READ
Sport has the power to be transformative for individuals with mental health challenges.
Sport in Mind, one of the LTA Tennis Foundation’s charity partners, are leading in the way in utilising this to improve the lives of individuals living with poor mental health.
Historically, Sport in Mind has mainly delivered programes to adults, but in 2023 they also started to run tennis sessions within their Holiday Activity and Food programme to children and saw fantastic results.
With support from an LTA Tennis Foundation grant, not only are they expanding their current offer across Great Britain, but they are also developing tennis sessions specifically for young people with mental health challenges.
The dedicated youth programme will be launching in February in Berkshire. Young people will be referred to the programme by a number of professionals including teachers, local authority workers, charities, mental health school teams, Early Intervention Teams and Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
'One in six children has a probable mental health challenge'
So, why are these sessions needed? Statistics show that 50% of all mental health problems start by age 14, and that currently one in six children now have a probable mental health challenge. This evidence shows the need for sessions like these is higher than ever.
Not only will the children have access to tennis sessions, and all the physical benefits that come from playing regular sport, but they will also develop essential life skills which can help them understand and manage their emotions and mental wellbeing.
We spoke with Kayleigh Harris, Head of National Partnerships at Sport in Mind, to find out more about why they believed it was vital to start delivering sessions for young people.
“Tennis has proven to be a highly successful and popular sport with the children and young people Sport in Mind engage with," she said.
"It provides an opportunity for the coach to explore further our key messages around communication, focus, breathing and heart rate, all which are vital for developing healthy long -term habits for the participants, physical, mental and social health. I can’t wait to see more young people access this fun and accessible sport, to have fun, make new friends and have a break from any worrying thoughts they might be challenged by.”
What will the sessions look like?
Sport in Mind prides itself on all front-line services being co-designed by people with lived experience of mental health challenges and for the young people involved in the sessions - their voice is vital in order to make the session successful.
The coach will work with young people in a person-centred manner, providing opportunities for them to engage at their own level, with no added pressure of competition. Creating a relaxed environment for everyone, ensuring every small win is celebrated. Every young person will also have the opportunity to explore the Sport in Mind Journal, which will help between sessions keep up healthy habits.
Tom Gibbins, Head of the LTA Tennis Foundation said: “We are looking forward to seeing the impact of Sport in Mind’s dedicated youth programme. The LTA Tennis Foundation’s mission is to improve lives through tennis, and this programme is a prime example of how our grant funding programme is achieving that.”
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