Glentress hosts mountain biking mental health pilot scheme - BBC

January 28, 2019

Glentress hosts mountain biking mental health pilot scheme - BBC

The mental health benefits of mountain biking are being examined thanks to the world renowned trails of the Borders.

A six-week pilot programme used the sport as part of a "therapeutic recovery programme" for people experiencing issues.

The scheme saw 10 participants travel from across the Borders to use the trails at Glentress near Peebles.

The success of the project will be evaluated by mental health experts and could be rolled out elsewhere.

The programme was run by Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) with Scottish Borders Health and Social Care Partnership's Galashiels Resource Centre and Edinburgh Napier University.

Glentress signImage copyright JIM BARTON

It was held in August and September last year.

Participants were provided with bikes before embarking on a two-hour ride led by qualified leaders with additional support from volunteers.

Resource centre staff were also on hand throughout the session to "reinforce individual strategies" that the people taking part could use to "manage their own challenges and difficulties".

Graeme McLean, DMBinS project manager, said it had been an "amazing pilot" to be involved with.

'Hugely innovative'

"Every week we went away buzzing from enjoyment everyone was getting from the rides," he said.

"We were keen to help this programme to happen by delivering the weekly sessions."

He said the group wanted to understand if mountain biking could aid recovery from a period of mental health problems and then take any lessons learned across Scotland.

Robert McCulloch-Graham, chief officer health and social integration for the partnership, said the project was "hugely innovative and exciting" and appeared to have been beneficial.

Glentress trailImage copyright JIM BARTON

"It certainly seems to have been one of the best-attended programmes the partnership has delivered with staff reporting an exceptional response from everyone taking part," he said.

"Not only did they find it useful to be able to work with participants in a real life setting, they were also able to observe some genuine progress being made in terms of personal resilience, self-efficacy, social skills and confidence.

"We look forward to seeing the project evaluation when that is available and what potential there might be for the initiative to be available elsewhere in Scotland in the future."

The pilot programme will also be evaluated by sports psychologist Tony Westbury of Edinburgh Napier University and the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland.

He said: "We think this is a fantastic programme and through our observations we can see that the participants really enjoyed mountain biking and the experience provided by DMBinS."

He said they would study the impact of the programme to see how it could be "developed, improved and escalated into the future".

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