We look to health in an holistic way, championing the need for both physical and mental health to be considered as equally important. This is something Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy also looks to and something we wholeheartedly support. Those with poor physical health are at greater risk of developing a mental health condition and/or exacerbating a current one. Conversely, mental ill health increases the risk of physical ill health and so the corner stone of all our health projects is the integration of these two health pillars.
Importantly it is also about inclusion; we want people from all walks of life to be able to access mountain biking if they want to; we passionately believe a mountain biking community culture that embraces and welcomes diversity is a healthy one creating an amazing platform for innovation and lending a wealth of perspectives that will leave us all the richer.
Our projects below are supported by the Scottish MTB Health Fund. If you can, please consider donating so we can continue to develop these amazing projects and continue to improve lives through mountain biking.
Trail Therapy participant
“Every trail centre should have a couple of therapists with some bikes and every health board should be able to buy into that and use it”
Trail Therapy is an innovative intervention programme that seeks to use mountain biking in combination with more traditional therapy techniques to support those diagnosed with a mental health illness. From its tiny beginnings in 2018 we have now delivered Trail Therapy to over 80 people across Scotland, amounting to over 1,000 sessions. It's super exciting, we couldn't be more pleased however it has left us at a bit of a crux; with international interest, a tiny team and limited funding, where do we go next with Trail Therapy?
One of the challenges for us is that this new, somewhat unconventional approach is not as rigorously evaluated as many of the other (often pharmaceutical) interventions and treatments. Independent, academically rigorous evaluation is so important going forward, not just when it comes to referrals from the NHS but for those coming into this programme from third-sector organizstions and also those self-referring.
The good news is we now have the beginnings of an independent evaluation and masses of anecdotal evidence that says this can really work! Edinburgh Napier University’s Dr Holly Fountain has completed some preliminary research into the Trail Therapy programme and its all very exciting stuff and super positive. Holly presented some of her preliminary findings at the Scottish Mountain Bike Conference. This report will be finalised in January and if you want to catch up on just what Trail Therapy has done over the past 18 months just click on the link below for our most recent update.
So what next? It has to be about partnership working, the sharing of our learnings over the past 18 months and the generation of a formal Trail Therapy Programme that includes training, support and mentorship of partner individuals and organisations creating hubs across the UK and beyond.
And lastly, I can't end a Trail Therapy 2022 blog without saying a MASSIVE thanks to all those who have supported this programme, from people who have donated to the Scottish MTB Health Fund, to those who have given their time, energy and brain power. We thank you because we would not be here without you!
Trail Therapy participant
The opportunities for people to have conversations not over a table, not face to face with a councillor or a therapist, not a clinical environment, but out on a bike side by side is amazing. There's no white eye contact, it's not threatening, it's informal and sometimes that's the best kind of therapy we've got, you know
Our Rider2Leader events have continued for yet another year! These very special, 2-day events seek to build confidence in women mountain bikers so they can transition from mountain bike rider to mountain bike leader - helping to create more role models at all levels and inspire more women and girls into our sport.
This is so super important to us, there are so, so many amazing women out there hitting the trails, many aspiring to become mountain bike leaders but through lack of confidence, the transition from mountain bike rider to mountain bike leader can often be perceived as too daunting.
The courses are delivered by women for women, we get great feedback and they also produce results! Bearing in mind those folk who come on these courses choose them because they are really nervous about making that first step to formal training, we would be chuffed if just a handful of you went onto training and then assessment. But it's not just a handful - over 1/3 of all those who come along then feel confident enough to go and get qualified! What is really exciting is that a number of those qualified over the last few years have not stopped at Level 2 but have gone onto Level 3 too!
Rider2Leader is a joint initiative between DMBinS and Glenmore Lodge, we have been delivering these courses for a few years now and their success is evident and with more female leaders out there, we can get more women tutors and more girls into this amazing pastime!
Our Trail Therapy Programme is so clearly showing a link between mountain biking and mental wellbeing and resilience; our Rider2Leader programmes demonstrate that with bespoke encouragement and some great, relatable role models we can build confidence in women looking to take that first amazing step into mountain bike leadership. The Fundamentals of Mountain Bike Leadership, grassroots award is opening up the leadership doors for so many more people including those from within the disabled community (this was deliberate).
We have been working hard over the last year to encourage more folk into mountain biking and importantly into mountain bike tutoring. Folk from underrepresented communities who can become not only those very important relatable role models but who are knowledgeable and as passionate as we are about mountain biking. We have so much still to learn but partnership working is most definitely the way forward for us; thanks you so much to Craig Grimes from Experience Community, Neil Russell from Adaptive Riders Collective CIC and Aneela McKenna of Mòr Diversity. We so could not do this without you xx