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New MTB & Mental Health ‘Trail Therapy’ Project – Ready to Ride

Its been quite a journey to get to this point but we are delighted to be able to now share the news that we have our new team member in post to start working with partners on the innovative 'Trail Therapy' project.

Paul Mac Farlane

This new project will offer two programmes with two distinct client groups under the banner of “Trail Therapy”. The project is being supported by NatureScot, Edinburgh Napier University and Trek Bikes and will support and consolidate the therapeutic techniques delivered by mental health professionals.

It is a kick-start project that will result in novel preventative and therapeutic approaches, taking full advantage of Scotland’s natural environment, responding directly to the mental health crisis we are facing. As a project it will lay the foundations for a structured, rigorously evaluated, nature-based solution to support our health service going forward and we cannot wait to get the ball rolling.

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We’re announcing an exciting, kick start project where mountain biking and contact with nature will form the core of an innovative approach to help people suffering from a sustained or acute period of mental ill-health. Following an extensive selection process, Scottish Cycling through their Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) project, have appointed a Trail Therapy Mountain Bike Leader to deliver the project.

Paul MacFarlane, a highly qualified mountain bike leader with a breadth of experience delivering sessions to adults and young people alike, will take up the post in mid-April. Paul, who is also a mental health first aider, will be working in partnership with the NHS and Green Health Partnerships in Dundee and South Lanarkshire, delivering mountain biking sessions to two distinct client groups.

The nature-based project will help support and consolidate the therapeutic techniques delivered by mental health professionals within formal and informal healthcare settings to accelerate recovery, under the banner of ‘Trail Therapy’.

Paul said

“I am very much looking forward to taking up the role this month and beginning the process to ensure that ‘Trail Therapy’ is delivered as a complimentary technique to help those that need it.”

“Now more than ever we need to be championing mental health and ensure that interventions to tackle the increasing stresses placed on the NHS and its support services are there when managing mental health issues. Community-based health initiatives are increasingly seen as the way forward, with NHS systems reaching the limits of their health-giving powers.”

“We need an ever-increasing variety of tools within our mental health toolbox to support not only the individuals affected but the systems that currently try to care for them. This project connects participants to the benefits of ‘green exercise’ through mountain biking and offers one more tool in our toolkit.”

NatureScot is the main funder of this project which follows on from a successful pilot delivered by DMBinS and partners in the Scottish Borders in 2018.

Bridget Finton from NatureScot said

“We are delighted to have Paul in post to take Trail Therapy forward. This novel project takes full advantage of Scotland’s amazing natural environment as a setting for this preventative and therapeutic approach. It fully supports NatureScot’s Our Natural Health Service initiative and responds directly to the mental health crisis we are currently facing. As a partnership project it will lay the foundations for a structured, rigorously evaluated, nature-based solution to support our health service going forward.”

The project will also be supported by Trek Bikes. Jez Loftus from Trek said

“As a company we are delighted to be involved and support this project. We truly believe that bikes are a tool to vastly improve people’s lives and as an industry we have a real responsibility to be advocates for programmes such as this that harness the power of the bike.

Worldwide, now more than ever, people are struggling with their mental health and we are proud to be part of such an innovative project that will grow and be able to help those that really need help.”

For more information on the project please contact Christine Fox

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