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Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

Mental Health Awareness Week is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. This year, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness and is being held between 9 - 15 May.

Loneliness is affecting more and more of us in the UK and has had a huge impact on our physical and mental health during the pandemic. Our connection to other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health and we need to find better ways of tackling the epidemic of loneliness.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

This year, we have asked ANDYSMANCLUB to help us to share support options for our members. ANDYSMANCLUB are a mental health charity that provide nation-wide talking groups for men. Here is what they had to say about mental health awareness week:

“ANDYSMANCLUB are proud to be working alongside British Weight Lifting this Mental Health Awareness week, as we look to raise public knowledge of the effects of loneliness on Mental Health.

Between 2020 and 2021, a survey found that 6% of the UK's population experienced loneliness 'at all times' or 'often.' It is of vital importance that people nationwide have access to tools and methods that can dissuade any feelings of loneliness and allow them to feel a part of something again.

Exercise has been proven to be one of the most effective methods people can use to improve their mental health and it is of our belief that the social aspects of exercise have just as much of an impact on this as the physical aspects, with sport allowing people to find common ground and shared experience with others and also allowing them to take an active interest in the progress of other participants. These factors increase the likelihood of participants in sport developing friendships away from sport”

To highlight the benefits of regular exercise, strength training and being a part of a club, we asked members of the weightlifting and para-powerlifting community for their experiences and advice with training. 



Ed Smale is a weightlifter currently ranked fourth in Great Britain in the men’s 96kg category. Ed is a student at Loughborough university and most recently competed at the English Commonwealth Trials and posted 310kg total with a 140kg snatch and 170kg clean and jerk.

Three time Paralympian Lou Sugden is a World Class Programme para powerlifter. Lou is an incredible athlete, and after transferring to the sport after a career in wheelchair basketball, quickly became a Commonwealth silver medallist. Lou also coaches the London Titans Wheelchair Basketball team.

British Champion weightlifter Bella Brown is currently ranked number 1 in Britain in the women’s 81kg category. Bella is also part of the BWL DiSE programme, completing the course alongside other study. Bella most recently competed at the IWF World Junior Championships in Greece in the 76kg category and totalled 198kg.

Benedict Millson is current British Champion and top ranked weightlifter in Britain in the men’s 102kg category. Benedict is vocal about his experiences with Erbs Palsy, OCD, and Psychosis and is an advocate about being open and honest regarding mental health.

Alice Aitchison is a weightlifter currently ranked number 3 in Britain and number 1 in Scotland after totalling 188kg at the British Championships earlier this year. It has recently been announced that Alice will be representing Scotland at this year’s Birmingham Commonwealth Games.


What is your favourite thing about training with others?

Ed: “I love how a team atmosphere can push you to achieve things you wouldn’t try on your own”.

Lou: “I love the way training with other people can bring more energy to you and your session. It can give you a boost if you're not having the best day or make a good day even better”.

Bella: “The atmosphere when training with others is unbeatable and with all the right people surrounding me, I find it brings the best version of me out in my lifting!”

Benedict: “Sharing the highs and the lows. It’s always better celebrating PBs with your training partners and it’s much easier when you’re suffering seeing others suffer!”

Alice: “My favourite thing about training with others is that it can take out of your own head when you’re having a bad day! You can take the time to focus on something else. Training with others can also help make you smile more and laugh more which helps your metal health too. The people around you can make the world of a difference especially if you’re having a bad day, which we all have!”


It is widely documented that exercise can have a positive effect on mental health. Since starting training, have you noticed any positive effects from training on your mental health?

Ed: “I have found training to be a brilliant outlet after a tough or busy day. Helping to clear your head and let go of the stress.”

Lou: “It gives me a goal and something to work towards which is when I'm happiest. Whether you're exercising for your physical health or for a competition, it can be hugely beneficial for your mental health as well”.

Bella: “Weightlifting is such a mentally challenging sport and the reward from it is like no other. So yes, when my training is going well everything seems to fall into place!”

Benedict: “Since starting training, my confidence and self-esteem have increased dramatically as a result of my improved body image. In terms of serious mental health issues, training hasn’t had any direct beneficial effect but it has given me a routine which I believe has stopped me from just laying around all day everyday which I’m sure I would have done”.

Alice: “I’ve noticed a huge difference! It’s helped me in so many ways! Helped me keep my stress levels down from work, helped me though some tough family times, helped me become the me that I am today and for that I’m forever thankful! I think everyone should try and find 30 minutes 4 times a week to do some form of exercise, no matter what it is, it will honestly change your life so much! You’ll feel so much more relaxed, you’ll sleep better, and you’ll feel so much better in yourself!”


Shout out your favourite training buddies! Let us know why you value their company!

Ed: “Shoutout all of the Loughborough powerlifting and weightlifting crew for all the support!”

Lou: “My favourite training buddies are my World Class Program teammates that I train with weekly in Loughborough (Olivia Broome, Liam McGarry, Lottie McGuinness & Tom Smith). There're always there to give me a boost when I need it”.

Benedict: “Clare Dane, Andreas Fourouclas and Alex Burbridge”.

Alice: “Shout out to all the team at Broxburn Strength and Fitness! Can’t pick any favourites because I love training with all of them!!”


Mark Swan interview

Para Powerlifter Mark Swan claimed his Junior World Champion title when he won the gold medal at the 2021 World Championships in Tbilisi. Mark has been selected for the 2022 World Class Programme, and recently benched 196kg for a 4kg personal best in Loughborough at a test event.


Help and support



Talking groups for men who have either been through a storm, are currently going through a storm or have a storm brewing in life.

Nationwide talking groups open every Monday from 7pm excluding bank holidays.


Campaign to End Loneliness

Find out more about the 3 types of loneliness and how to tackle it.



For information about young people and loneliness.



InfoLine: 0300 123 3393

The Mind InfoLine can help you find specialist services in your area.



Call 116 123 (free from any phone)

24 hours a day, 365 days a year.



For immediate support text SHOUT to 85258 to chat by text to a trained and supervised volunteer. Free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.



Find information and support for your mental health.


For more options

Visit the Helplines Partnership website for a directory of UK helplines




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