A Shropshire boxing coach, whose club won an award for helping young people with mental health problems, is calling on people to mark Mental Health Awareness Week by talking about their wellbeing.
Bright Star Boxing Academy, based in Shifnal, won a Thrive West Midlands Mental Health Star award, organised by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), for supporting young people with anxiety, depression and anger management issues.
The academy helps young people to turn their lives around through boxing. Free one-to-one sessions are offered to those with high anxiety to enable them to take part.
Joe Lockley and Bright Star Boxing Academy colleagues celebrate winning a Thrive Mental Health Award
It takes referrals from other organisations and has sessions running outside the club for vulnerable groups including women who have been sexually abused, young people in care, homeless people and those struggling with substance misuse. Eight of its 14 volunteer coaches are mental health first aiders.
Club development manager Joe Lockley said: “Over the past three years, nearly 200 young people have come through our door. We’ve seen them overcome addiction, anxiety and depression, and people who were socially isolated start to feel part of a family for the first time.
“Winning the Thrive award has been brilliant and is helping us to support more people by raising our profile.
“Next month, we’re launching a new programme called Counterpunch, for men aged over 18 who don’t feel able to talk about mental health at home, and 26 have signed up so far. We will give them a safe place to release their energy and grow in confidence.”
Joe added: “We find that the people who experience the most problems are the ones who don’t talk about how they are feeling. Mental Health Awareness Week is a great starting point for us all to have conversations about our wellbeing and remember that it’s OK not to be OK.”
Thrive West Midlands was launched by the WMCA to improve mental and physical health and wellbeing, as part of its ambition to make sure everyone in the region has the opportunity to have a good quality of life, a worthwhile job and an affordable home.
The awards form part of the wider Thrive West Midlands action plan on mental health, which focuses on the experience of real people with mental health needs alongside the expert knowledge of professional mental health practitioners and organisations.
Sean Russell, director of implementation of Thrive West Midlands, said: “The Thrive awards celebrate the amazing people across the region who are making a difference to mental health.
“It’s wonderful news that winning an award is helping Bright Star Boxing Academy to transform more people’s lives through boxing, particularly as many are from vulnerable groups.
“As the region prepares to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022, it’s great to see programmes like these helping young people to develop their talent.”
Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May. For more information, visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk