Championing movement to nurture mental resilience and foster wellbeing


As we continue to celebrate #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, Sport Wales Service and Partner Development Officer for Health and Education, Melanie Davies, emphasises the importance of movement in supporting good mental health. 

As Mental Health Awareness week continues, the spotlight is on the vital connection between movement and mental well-being. This year’s focus “Movement: Moving More for Our Mental Health” highlights how staying active can significantly benefit mental health.  

It is crucial to recognise the challenges young people face as they navigate the transition to adulthood, including academic stress and societal pressures. Physical activity and sport play a vital role in helping them cope with these challenges by reducing stress, improving mood, and boosting self-esteem. By integrating physical activity and sports activities into their daily lives, young people can be equipped with the tools they need to maintain good mental health and well-being. 

As a valued national partner of Sport Wales, ColegauCymru promotes person centred active well-being opportunities for post-16 learners across Wales through their active well-being strategy. These opportunities range from physical education programmes, extra-curricular activities, and wellness campaigns. This holistic approach promotes active well-being beyond traditional sports and exercise, ensuring that every student can find something that works for them.  

I was pleased to accompany ColegauCymru staff and active well-being officers on a recent visit to Slovenia funded by Taith, to explore the country’s approach to promoting an active nation. Witnessing the passion and commitment to provide active well-being opportunities for learners was truly inspiring. Their unwavering commitment to fostering a culture of physical activity and well-being serves as a testament to the transformative impact of their efforts on the health and well-being of our learners in colleges across Wales. 

Research consistently highlights the many benefits of regular exercise for mental health. Physical activity and sport help to regulate stress and anxiety levels, elevating mood through the release of endorphins. Moreover, engaging in physical activity and sport promotes emotional regulation and supports overall emotional well-being 

Also of significance is the impact of sport and physical activity on academic performance. Studies demonstrate a positive correlation between fitness and cognitive function, with regular exercise associated with improved attention, memory, and academic achievement. By integrating sport and physical activity into their daily routines, learners stand to reap the cognitive benefits that translate into academic performance and success. 

Furthermore, physical activity and sport serve as a catalyst for social interaction and community engagement. Participation in team sports, group fitness and recreational activities facilitates the formation of friendships, fosters camaraderie, and cultivates a sense of belonging. These social connections are fundamental to emotional well-being but also provide a support network. 

Beyond the individual benefits, the promotion of physical activity within educational settings yields broader societal advantage. By instilling healthy habits and attitudes towards physical activity from a young age we foster a culture of lifelong wellness and prevention of long-term illness. Through prioritising mental and physical wellbeing alongside academic progress we nurture well rounded individuals equipped with the tools and resilience to thrive in an increasingly complex world. By emphasising the connection between physical activity and mental wellbeing we empower learners to become a part of a community where mental health and wellbeing is priotisised. Not only will people in Wales have experiences that impact their development but will also be exposed to experiences where their mental health and well-being is looked after, and ideally, enhanced. As they embark on their educational journey, they are not only gaining knowledge but also developing lifelong habits that will serve them well in the future. 

We know that the best interventions for improving mental health are ones that consider how we can improve psychological safety within the environment through creating a sense of connection, belonging, and trusted relationships. In the realm of active well-being and sporting opportunities, the creation of a thriving environment is paramount. Such an environment not only improves physical health but also nurtures mental, emotional, and social well-being. By cultivating a supportive ecosystem where individuals feel valued, empowered, and included, we pave the way for holistic growth and fulfilment. A thriving environment encourages, participation, promotes positive relationships and instils a sense of belonging and purpose. It’s more than just providing opportunities for physical activity; it's about creating spaces where individuals can flourish, thrive and reach their full potential. In prioritising the creation of thriving environments, we not only enhance well-being but also build stronger, healthier communities for generations to come. 

During Mental Health Awareness Week, let’s be reminded of the importance of our collective efforts in promoting mental well-being through physical and sporting activity. Together let us champion movement as a powerful tool for nurturing mental resilience and fostering well-being and achievement amongst learners in all educational settings. Let’s create a nation where everyone can have a lifelong enjoyment of sport and physical activity! 

Further Information 
Mental Health Awareness Week 
13 – 19 May 2024 

Sport Wales 
Sport Wales is the national organisation responsible for developing and promoting sport and physical activity in Wales 

ColegauCymru Active Wellbeing Strategy 
Rob Baynham, Sport and Active Wellbeing Project Manager  

Follow Us

Follow us on social media for updates on all things CollegesWales Sport.