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Court time provides mental health lifeline

Wherever you choose to get on court, the health and wellbeing benefits of badminton for body and mind are the game’s big winners. 

With #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek upon us, we love hearing of success stories from people of all backgrounds whose quality of life has been made just that little bit better thanks to badminton.

This is no truer than for Mike Collett; whose love of badminton was to become a key life coping strategy when his mental health deteriorated – and one that was to start him out on a new journey inspiring others to join him on court.

20 years ago, Mike was diagnosed with agitated depression. It came as a massive shock to him and his family. It felt like a ‘dark cloud’ as everything he enjoyed doing – from fishing to going out and generally facing people to family life – seemed to be a chore.

Even badminton, one of Mike’s lifelong passions, took a backseat as his self-esteem and self-confidence suffered.

“Looking back, when I struggled with my mental health I couldn't play, my mind wasn't there and I struggled to focus” Mike said, who admits he gets days that are worse than others.

“I still have issues but playing badminton was a key part of my recovery. Getting out and meeting people gave me a sense of purpose.

“It took me a while to get up the confidence but I started to go back to badminton seeing people that I hadn't seen for four months. 

“I was surprised how responsive people were to me, making me feel welcome. I've always loved playing badminton so I looked into how I could give something back to the sport I loved.”

Goals 

Mike turned that positive energy into signing up to first becoming a SmashUp! Activator – leading badminton session in schools for children who were looking for a route into the social side of sport.

“I was really proud to achieve my goal.” Mike adds. “I lead four sessions at different schools and could see a way through things. I could see myself building in confidence.”

Boosted by his newly found eagerness to inspire, Mike was then offered the chance to extend his badminton experience by running a local pay and play No Strings Badminton session.

“I saw it as a new challenge, giving me another focus. I have had people join the sessions who have experienced similar issues to me and it has helped us all and my confidence has continued to grow.

“My mental health problems were still there but became more manageable. I have learnt to cope with the highs and lows and I would like to say a heart felt thank you to badminton for getting me to this position”.

Honour 

Mike is hopeful more challenges will come his way to keep him ‘on the right track' – and now, working towards his Level 2 coaching badge, more and more doors are opening up for him within the sport.

He was honoured to be approached to set up satellite clubs in two local schools and now his work to establish the sessions sees over 70 pupils hit the courts each week whilst he also assists at a local junior club.

“It’s strange how it helps. It’s made me turn off from the anxiety and simply enjoy what I am doing. I always look forward to it and it makes me feel good about myself.

“I am proud of what I have achieved and find it hard to see how far I've come and it's all down to the people I have worked with supporting me along the way."

Body & Mind 

Research conducted by the Mental Health Foundation shows that two and half hours of brisk exercise each week can cut the chances of depression by 30%.

Add in the social side of badminton which builds self-confidence and self-esteem and the benefits to body and mind.

At Badminton England, we work closely with a number of leading mental health charities and the NHS are now recommending badminton as part of a patients recovery.