Bristol-based cycling charity, Life Cycle, is already supporting people suffering from mental illness through a programme of supported bike rides – one of the few available services that is having to plug the gaps in public service provision.
According to the report some 6 million people in the UK suffer from depression or crippling anxiety conditions, and mental health illness now accounts for almost half of ill health amongst people of working age. The report’s author, Lord Layard, argues for an urgent need for providing more low cost therapies to help people get back on their feet. Life Cycle’s Bike Minded project is one of those schemes.
Bike Minded offers people experiencing mental and emotional distress the opportunity to join a friendly, supportive group for gentle cycling. By enabling people to get out into the countryside and experience the joys and freedoms of cycling, it helps people cope better with their mental illness.
Many of the participants were very lonely and isolated and unsure as to where they could get help. Joining in with Life Cycle’s cycle rides has brought them into contact with supportive volunteers as well as other people experiencing similar problems, who have been able to empathise with their situation.
The project is there to help anyone who is suffering from mental distress including anxiety and depression to get out and about on a bike. The experience of being outside and taking exercise is well known to boost mental well-being.
“After my breakdown and the onset of panic attacks I never thought I’d leave the house on my own again. Bike Minded has really increased my confidence and on the strength of my experience with the project I volunteered to help build the permaculture garden for the Bristol Harbour Festival” – Bike Minded participant
“Taking part in Bike Minded has really been like a journey back into society. I had felt so excluded from it before. Having a bike has enabled me to be more social and break my isolation” – Bike Minded participant
Anyone in Bristol experiencing mental illness, who would like to try cycling should get in touch with Life Cycle via their website: www.lifecycleuk.org.uk or call: 0117 353 4580.