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Fitness sector needs to engage with mental health issues, says Mind chief

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Fitness providers could be doing more to engage with people who suffer from mental health issues, according to the head of a leading charity.

Paul Farmer, Mind chief executive, believes that exercise is the number one preventative measure for mental health, with strong evidence to show for its efficacy.

Farmer told Health Club Management that fitness providers could help by encouraging clients to think about looking after their mental health in the same way they do their physical health, and making sure their organisation is aware of such issues.

He said: "People with mental health issues are often low in self-esteem and confidence, and have preconceptions that gyms are intimidating places, so it's of paramount importance to be open and welcoming."

Research from the Centre for Mental Heath shows that work-related stress, anxiety and depression contributes to 35 per cent of all work-related ill-health cases, costing British business an estimated £26bn (US$31.9bn, €30.3bn) a year.

In the article, titled "Emotional Wellbeing", Nuffield Health's director of emotional wellbeing Chris Harbron said the company has launched a service aimed at supporting those suffering stress, anxiety and depression. Initially for employees, the scheme will be rolled out in the next few months to members regardless of gym membership.

Harbron said that Nuffield Health was "looking to create a culture where open dialogue about emotional wellbeing and physical wellbeing is encouraged, supported and expected."

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Fitness providers could be doing more to engage with people who suffer from mental health issues, according to the head of a leading charity.
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Paul Farmer believes that exercise is the number one preventative measure for mental health
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