MIACS Ambassador bettering lives through sport
Ben Parfitt, is an ambassador of Moth in a China Shop and the Physical Well-Being Manager at Hereford Sixth Form College.
During Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May), Ben shared the following story with us about Hannah; a 19 year old from Shropshire, finishing her A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and Psychology.
Four years ago Hannah had a horrendous accident causing her to be temporarily paralysed from the neck down and developing severe PTSD. She feared exercise altogether and was battling every day with her anxiety. Furthermore, she had another challenging condition called hip dysplasia, which also has caused her problems with exercise. School PE teachers had tried to wrap her up in cotton wool in an attempt to prevent any more damage to her hips and back. However, through not doing any exercise she had no outlet for her stress and anxiety, which was starting to spiral out of control.
Hannah arrived at Hereford Sixth Form College in September at the launch of their 1-to-1 programme. She was referred by a teacher to the Ben (Physical Wellbeing Manager) as her stress and anxiety were preventing her attending lessons. After a meeting and an assessment, he set her up with a Strength and Conditioning coach twice a week to initiate a physical wellbeing programme. His aim was to facilitate natural movement by correcting her body’s imbalances and find pain-free exercises to help manage her stress levels.
“It was terrifying to begin with, so many times I felt like saying I can't do this, however, everyone was so lovely and I felt like I was working at something I could get better at. Now, I thoroughly enjoy attending the gym and have gained so much confidence as a result. It was a massive distraction for me and it made me feel normal.”
After a few months Hannah made huge improvements both physically and mentally, her body was no longer in pain during exercise and she could now run on a treadmill unaided for 10 minutes. She was smiling and more care-free, attending almost 100% of her classes without finding excuses not to go to lessons if she was feeling low.
The team then reduced her sessions and placed the onus on her by paying for a gym membership she could now manage her own exercise regime. Ben and Hannah now have regular meetings and a session is provided once a month to ensure she is progressing and staying positive on the build up to her exams. She now can associate exercise with increasing her mood and helping her overcome daily barriers, setting her up well to achieve her goal of attending university to study Optometry.
“It has enabled me to have healthy coping mechanisms to deal with all my worries and mental health”
“It has saved my life. I wouldn't be here today without the whole of the wellbeing team at college, I was in a very low place. It's made me realise how proud I should be of myself and how far I've come with injuries and not to let them get in the way. Mentally I am able to cope and accept my panic attacks, but I refuse to let them get in the way now.”