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Sir Chris Hoy joined aspiring 2014 Commonwealth Games 800m athlete Guy Learmonth at Redhall Walled Garden earlier today to launch a significant new partnership between the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and scottishathletics, which will use the networks and expertise of both organisations to deliver community based services and support across Scotland, helping people every week to discover how physical activity can impact upon and improve their mental health.

The ground breaking partnership will focus on raising awareness of the importance of good mental health to the 28,000 members of jogscotland, working with jog leaders and scottishathletics coaches to ensure community runners and athletes look after their mental health as well as their physical fitness and performance, delivering pilots of SAMH’s new ‘Mental Health Awareness for coaches working in physical activity and delivering jog leader training courses to SAMH staff and service users.

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While at Redhall Walled Garden, Sir Chis and the Commonwealth Games-selected athlete Guy Learmonth also met people who have used this SAMH service to find out how activities such as training in horticulture, conservation and developing maintenance skills have made a positive impact on their mental health

Redhall Walled Garden is a beautiful 18th Century Walled Garden within a 6 acre estate where SAMH offers training in horticulture, conservation, maintenance skills, ITC/admin and life skills for people with mental health problems. The service can support up to 55 service users from within Edinburgh City at any given time.

SAMH already supports 2,500 people every week in over 60 community based services. This partnership will help SAMH to increase its work in using physical activity as part of support and recovery plans for everyone who uses a SAMH service.

Sir Chris, who has been involved in with SAMH and its Get Active Campaign since 2009 said: “The work SAMH does across Scotland supports thousands of people with mental health problems and it’s clear to see here at Redhall Walled Garden that increasing physical activity is one of the best steps to take forward better mental health. I’m proud to be able to support the incredible work the charity does and to meet service users who have benefitted from SAMH’s resources.”

Bill Watson chief executive of SAMH said: “Physical activity is hugely important for mental health. SAMH has carried out programmes for many years which prove that service users who undertake physical activity enjoy improved mental health. Our resources at Redhall Walled Garden are the perfect example of this in action, and an ideal place to launch our new partnership with scottishathletics and hear from Sir Chris Hoy about the importance of keeping active.”

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Nigel Holl CEO of scottishathletics added; “Our partnership with SAMH is very important to us and offers much in the way of assisting both organisations. Through the well-established jogscotland programme and our member athletic clubs we have a focus on physical health programmes to help people start and progress with physical activity. The mental health benefits of physical activity are well-documented but we know SAMH can help us improve our support in such a vital area. Equally we believe that we can support the excellent SAMH networks across Scotland through links to jogging groups and athletics clubs, and may help other people benefit. This partnership is about us doing more of what we know works.”