Move more to boost your mental health

9th May 2024

This Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May) Dorset HealthCare is encouraging people to get moving more and find moments for movement in their daily routines to benefit their mental health and wellbeing.

One local resident has told how swimming has boosted her sense of wellbeing, and  others can discover the benefits of physical activity by taking part in free events around west Dorset during the week

Every extra bit of movement we make can boost our mood and increase our energy. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety and help us to sleep better.

Going for short walk in your neighbourhood, putting on your favourite music and dancing around the living room, chair exercises when you’re watching television or walking up stairs rather than getting a lift – it all counts.

In Bridport and Dorchester, the Trust’s START (Support, Transition and Recovery Team) run a whole host of activities each week for local people to get moving for their mental health.

Dorchester resident and community mental health patient Iona Jehu, 24, was supported by START to go swimming in preparation for a challenge to raise money for a local church. Iona lost some weight, and her mental health has improved.

Iona said:Iona Jehu.jpeg

“After recently being diagnosed with diabetes, swimming has had a massive impact physically on me. It has helped me reach my goal of not being diabetic and losing weight. And mentally, it has stablised my mood – I’m less anxious and not as paranoid.

“Thanks to START and the charity challenge, I’ve really got into swimming and enjoy it. I meet up with a member of the START team every week for a swim, and it gives me an incentive to go and keep it up.”

Watch the short clip below to hear more from Iona. 

START is a secondary mental health community service for adults and older people. The team offers one-to-one sessions for people being supported by a community mental health team (CMHT), as well as group sessions open to everyone (patients and the wider public). The team’s work focuses on connecting people with their communities, through attending groups or activities, or helping them access education, improve their fitness and find work or volunteering opportunities.

Sarah Jones, support time recovery worker for START, said:

“Taking part in activities to improve fitness and increase movement is important physically but it’s crucial for mental health – in fact, it’s everything. It’s empowering, fun, brings people together and helps them find routine, plus it’s a way someone can control their body to benefit their mental health and not be defined by their diagnosis.

“Our groups are varied and include sports groups like boxing and circuit training to coffee groups and art groups, plus online social groups. People attend as often as they like. Nearly everyone who attends say they feel better for going and that they enjoy connecting with people and making friends.”

The service has a range of activities taking place during Mental Health Awareness Week to get people moving that are open to everyone to enjoy:

Monday, 13 May:

  • Weymouth – boxercise class, 10.30am-12noon
  • Dorchester – walking group, 11am
  • Lyme Regis - walking for wellbeing, 11am

Tuesday, 14 May: 

  • Dorchester – circuit group, 11.35am-12.15pm

Wednesday, 15 May:

  • Bridport – swimming, 12noon
  • Dorchester – swimming, 3pm

Thursday, 16 May:

  • Dorchester – Haylee’s Fitness Club exercise class, 12-1pm

Friday, 17 May:

  • Dorchester – circuit group, 1-2pm.

Check out START’s downloadable graphic for the full details and contact the team via for more information or to attend.

Mental Health Awareness Week is organised by the Mental Health Foundation. Check out their tips on moving more.

Find out more information on the mental health services and support provided by Dorset HealthCare.

And if you are passionate about working within mental health, take a look at the vacancies available. You will be part of a strong supportive team, build a career and work towards our vision to be better every day.

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