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Names and Numbers

1 in 4 people will struggle with their mental health.

115 people die from suicide every week in the UK.

I was 1 in 4.

I was nearly 1 of 115.

The thing with statistics is, no matter how bad numbers are, they’re just numbers until someone you know or love becomes one.

We’ve had over 200 of the 1 in 4’s through our program, all amazing unique people, with families, jobs, friends, and lives.

I don’t want to imagine a world where any of them became a number.

The fact that we have saved over 200 lives is a testament to how effective the BTG program really is, and for so many reasons.

It’s not just exercise, and it’s not just counseling.

It’s community.

It’s a combination of care.

It’s health.

It’s better sleep.

It’s practicing self-care.

It’s social connection.

It’s speaking out.

It’s improved nutrition.

It’s making new friends.

It’s management techniques.

It’s goal setting.

It’s finding purpose.

It’s wanting to live again.

We make a huge impact on the people who need it.

We don’t work with just any gyms. We work with hand-picked community-focused gyms and groups.

The kind that promote whole-person health and wellness, that’ll carefully help make lifestyle and nutrition improvements.

We only work with providers that know their members as people, not numbers.

We fund 1-1 exercise sessions with qualified trainers to give people the best possible chance of success when they start attending the physical therapy.

We then support and promote them integrating into the community.

This holds them accountable and encourages long-term lifestyle habits and mental wellness.

We do this alongside them having weekly counseling sessions with a registered therapist.

For the majority of people, there is nothing more effective for early intervention mental health support than the synchronized delivery of these two things.

And that’s a hill I’m willing to die on.

If we could deliver this program to every person who presented to their GP with stress, anxiety, or depression, I truly believe it would save millions of lives.

So why don’t we?

Well, there are two main reasons: cost and understanding.

Our programs cost £750 per person to deliver. And that’s too much money per person for the NHS and other grants to fund.

If there’s a pot of money, the powers that be would rather it was used to make a negligible difference to many, rather than lifesaving improvements to a few.

Because it’s all a numbers game. And people are numbers. Statistics that need to be “impacted”.

So instead, people are offered a prescription for medication, a sick note, and a spot on the talking therapies waitlist.

There are some organizations offering “exercise referral”, aka a pre-written program and free gym membership into a busy public gym for under £35pp.

The biggest problem with these gyms is that they are literally built on the premise that the people won’t use them; they’ll have over 4000 members with space for a few hundred.

The proof is there; even people who are well and paying the fees don’t use them, people who are anxious and struggling definitely won’t.

These cheap options make little to no difference in the long-term mental well-being of the many people they’re rolled out to. But the statistics look good. “The funding was used to deliver a mental well-being project to 600 people”… It would be interesting to look at the actual difference it had made 6 months later.

Understanding is key. Yes, exercise is great for mental health, but how, when, and who delivers it is so important.

Not all mental health support is equal.

And until NHS commissioners, grant allocators, GPs, and employers fully understand that, we’ll be fighting an uphill battle.

What’s perhaps most frustrating is that if you look at the bigger picture, £750 isn’t expensive.

£750 on effective early intervention support that prevents the need for further expensive medical interventions, improves someone’s physical as well as mental health, and has an 80% return-to-work rate is nothing.

What price would you put on your own life?

Sorry for the rant; it’s been a long week. And if you know someone who has the ability to make changes at the top, please put me in touch.

Vicky x

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