Racing comes together to support Mental Health Awareness Week
Paddock watchers will spot an extra addition to grooms' attire this week, with many stable staff expected to be sporting green ribbons in support of Mental Health Awareness Week – which aims to promote the importance of good mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
The campaign, run by the Mental Health Foundation, has received industry-wide backing following the efforts of Racing Welfare. The BHA, the Jockey Club, Arena Racing Company and independent racecourses have all pledged support for the initiative – Market Rasen will be holding a charity raceday in aid of Mind on Wednesday, May 16, while Windsor will be hosting the Mental Health Foundation at its popular Monday evening fixture.
A mental health training day will also take place in Lambourn on Wednesday, May 30.
Racing Welfare’s director of welfare Simone Sear said: "Looking after our mental health is just as important as looking after our physical health, yet it is not always easy to recognise when we, or someone else, is struggling with a mental health issue.
"By supporting Mental Health Awareness Week we aim to raise awareness of and destigmatise mental health issues to make it easier for those working in our industry to come forward for support, or indeed to support others to get help."
Research shows two thirds of people will experience mental health issues at some point in their life. A number of jockeys have spoken out about their mental health in recent years – in 2016 multiple champion jockey Kieren Fallon retired from the saddle while undergoing treatment for depression – but across all sectors of society improvement is still needed in mental health care, from treatment to encouraging people to discuss their mental health and take it as seriously as physical issues.
"This week provides an important platform to raise awareness of our range of mental health support services available to racing’s workforce," said Sear.
"As signatories of the Mental Health in Sport Charter we are committed to making sure that good mental wellbeing stays high on our agenda."
In addition to activities surrounding Mental Health Awareness Week, Racing Welfare is working in conjunction with Liverpool John Moores University and the BHA to carry out a pioneering piece of research into the provision of mental health services across horseracing.
Are you or is someone you know struggling with mental health? Call Racing Welfare's 24-hour helpline on 0800 6300 443 for free and confidential advice