Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 13 to 19 May, and this year’s theme is “Movement: Moving more for our mental health”.

We all know that exercise can improve physical health, but it can benefit your mental health too. Physical activity can reduce stress, increase opportunities for social connection, and even mitigate the mental health impacts of long-term health conditions.

Yet, many of us struggle to move enough regularly. Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) guidelines recommend at least two and a half hours physical activity each week for adults, yet three-quarters of UK adults think it’s much less.

Mental health is increasingly becoming a motivating factor for people to get moving – a survey from 2023 revealed that mental health scores higher than getting in shape as the main motivation for exercise.

RSPH offers a range of qualifications that promote better mental health, covering everything from the principles of mental wellbeing to the issues of alcohol and substance misuse. With 2,000 people completing their Level 2 Award in Understanding Mental Wellbeing and 1,200 have completing the Mental Health First Aid training programme, RSPH is supporting individuals and organisations in promoting mental wellbeing.

Future Fit, who provide health, fitness, nutrition, and life coaching courses, have used the Level 2 Award in Understanding Mental Wellbeing to support their learners deliver sessions. We spoke to them to find out more about how they support mental health and wellbeing in their training.

What is Future Fit?

“Future Fit have been developing health and wellness qualifications since 1993, aiming to raise standards across the fitness and physical activity sector, and since then we’ve supported over 60,000 people to train as health and wellness professionals.

Beginning with personal training, we’ve broadened our focus to align with the trajectory of the sector as it pivots towards wider public health, adding courses in Nutrition, Pilates, Sports Massage and Life Coaching.”

Why is physical activity important for supporting better mental health?

“It’s widely known that engaging in regular physical activity is a powerful tool for supporting holistic health, alleviating symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. But it also engenders opportunities for social connections that are vital, particularly amongst the elderly and vulnerable.

Every month Future Fit qualifies 100 new Personal Trainers, equipped not only with the knowledge to tailor physical activity to diverse populations, but also trained in understanding mental wellbeing so they can make a real difference to the health of the communities they serve.”

How does the Level 2 Award in Understanding Mental Wellbeing help to support your learners?

“Acknowledging the role of a health and fitness professional as part of the wider public health workforce is essential to equip them with the knowledge and skills to support not just physical health, but also mental wellbeing.

The Level 2 Award allows our learners to recognise common disorders such as anxiety and depression, responding appropriately with empathy and sensitivity. The course provides our learners with the tools for effective communication, so they feel empowered to create a positive environment for their clients. They will also gain the knowledge and confidence to signpost clients to appropriate mental health resources and support services when needed.”

Want to learn more? Take a look at our mental health courses to expand your knowledge, or check out these tips to get yourself moving more.