Our Get Set To Go project promotes physical activity and excersise to improve mental health. It really does work! Cheryl has kindly shared her experiences with us...

I have been involved with Tyneside & Northumberland Mind’s Get set to Go project for a few months now and it has been a great opportunity for me and others on many levels. I would really recommend it to anyone looking to explore activities of a physical nature to help improve their mental health and general wellbeing.

You don't have to have won a gold medal and you can even have been the person at school who skipped games lessons like me, as there is a totally different and supportive environment here. Andrew, our coordinator makes sure that the fundamentals of the group are supportive relationships, having fun taking our minds off our troubles for a few hours and allowing all of us to explore and overcome our mental and physical barriers in my opinion.

We always start off in the weekly activity group I attend, with a general wellbeing chat which is a good icebreaker to allow anyone who is unsure or new to feel welcomed as part of the group. After all, it is to show people that you do not have to be competitive or be the best at an activity; you are not going to be 'punished' if you don't do things right or not very good at the start.

Why is the Coordinator key to all of this? Well, for me, I've joined certain groups in the past, and the leaders simply haven't made you feel welcome or that they want you there. I see this as unfortunate because if you get this gut feeling, then you are going to be deterred from going. Andrew has built up a brilliant atmosphere totally opposite to this.

I can even remember going to one sporting group in the past and getting the feeling that unless you were 100% serious about 'winning' then it was the wrong place to be. I didn't feel that they were considering the barriers that people might be crossing to just get to the activity or the fact they might simply want to 'enjoy' the activity (This I might add, was a place where I should have been feeling okay as I just wanted to participate!).

Andrew is aware of making sure everyone feels comfortable and that everyone has their own reasons/hurdles to beat which we all respect. He encourages mental health recovery from a fun perspective and has allowed me and other members of the group to take part in activities which I have not tried before and pushed me to achieve things I never knew I had the courage, skill or would enjoy; including a beach activity event and recently a climbing wall session at the local University!

For me, since I started Get Set to Go I feel great! I have joined lots of mental health support groups in the past myself including a wellbeing group with Tyneside & Northumberland Mind but the personal challenge I have to overcome is risking losing the enjoyment factor entirely by putting myself under pressure and primarily my drive of perfectionism in my performance.

In the past I have felt like I'm wasting people's time if I wasn't brilliant or had to ask things too many times and that I wasn't okay to be 'my own person', despite what appeared on the surface. So, I've approached this group as a 'fun' place where there is an understanding that everybody has their own reasons for being there and I feel safe and supported by everyone.

I'm now working 'behind the scenes' to make sure I go home from activities trying to reduce the self-critique that I have on myself, as this is when any activity does not become enjoyable. It's the perfect environment to 'move forward' with my mental health recovery and life in general with Get Set and Go! Finally, I know I said it at the climbing session but I'm still thrilled to bits at having had a go, so thank you for organising it/giving me a place/lifts/encouragement!

It's something I've wanted to try for years, so it was great going with a group of 'like minded' people and for me my 'challenge' is accepting I'm not top notch at it and coming away and enjoying it for what it is, not feeling a failure, and that challenge has been met.

Your group/you do a lot of good!!! As I was so proud of my personal achievement I sent my photos from the activity straight to my best mates and they were chuffed for me. I wish Get Set to Go every success in the future!

If you are interested in finding out a little more about our Get Set To Go project click here.

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