A Perth prison fitness instructor has spoken of his surprise and delight at launching a nationwide mental health campaign.
Alex McClintock and his colleague Adam Allison launched jogscotland’s ‘I’m here’ campaign – which encourages running group leaders to support mental health chats at their jogging groups.
The pair set up the Jog Con running group in Perth Prison last year and went on to win a Scottish Association of Mental Health award for their innovative approach to tackling mental health issues among prisoners.
Alex said the ‘I’m here’ campaign launch took them both by surprise.
He said: “Being a main part of the launch was a surprise to myself and Adam as we thought we were getting interviewed for the next magazine from jogscotland after our group won the SAMH mental health award.
“We wanted to share our experiences and getting our guys out running around the grounds of the prison had a positive impact on their mental health and for one hour a week they felt like they had ‘escaped’.”
The Jog Con group started in May last year when six prisoners signed up for a couch to 10k programme. The group runs laps of the football field inside the prison every Wednesday morning, with prisoners and leaders reporting an improvement in physical and mental health.
As part of the new jogscotland campaign running group leaders will complete training, make an ‘I’m here’ pledge and wear a badge, which they can use as a tool to start conversations and show they are open to chatting about mental health.
Adam said: “It was good to go through to jogscotland HQ and meet some of the people from the awards dinner and our wee chat about Jog Con seemed to go really well. I was proud to sign the “I’m Here” pledge.”
Jo Stevens, jogscotland membership development officer, said: “We all have mental health, sometimes good, sometimes not so good.
“We want to make sure that anybody who wants to get active with jogscotland is made to feel welcome and supported, and believe that mental health challenges shouldn’t stop people from participating.
“The intention is not to turn leaders into trained counsellors, but to make them feel more confident to provide a listening ear, and know how to help members find more help if they want it.”