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The appointment comes after a recent Mind survey found that 65% of coaches stated they lacked knowledge about mental health.
The charity wants to encourage more sports coaches to undergo mental health training and offers Mental Health Awareness for Sport and Physical Activity training in order to improve understanding around mental health problems within sport. In his new role as an ambassador for Mind, Duke will help to champion the benefits that physical exercise can have in managing a mental health problem.
As well as being a regular pundit on ITV4’s ‘Big Fight Live’, Duke coaches boxercise at Mind in Croydon and is dedicated to supporting the cause. In 1995, his brother, best friend and mentor Dudley McKenzie, tragically took his own life, aged 33. As a result his brother’s suicide left him passionate about supporting good mental health, particularly within the sporting world.
"I’m thrilled to be joining Mind as an ambassador. Through my new role I’m determined to help sportspeople and coaches to feel supported, and able to talk about their mental health."
While certain areas of the sports industry are moving forward in the way they approach mental health, through initiatives such as the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation, there is still a lot of work to be done. Mind has designed their Mental Health Awareness for Sport and Physical Activity training, with support of sports coach UK, in order to provide coaches with the tools needed to support people with mental health problems. The training course has been delivered to over 150 sports clubs across England as part of Mind’s Sport England and National Lottery funded programme Get Set to Go, and helps coaches understand common misconceptions about mental health and identify the positive impact that being active has on both physical and mental health.
The charity hopes that with Duke’s backing, the workshops will not only provide coaches with the training they need to confidently support men and women with mental health problems, but also begin a necessary conversation about mental health in sport.
Duke McKenzie said:
“It’s fantastic that Mind is shining a light on the need for mental health awareness in sport. Whilst some sports like cricket and football are working with professional associations to provide support for their players, there are definitely other areas where improvements still need to be made. I’m passionate about the importance of wellbeing and, as a boxer, I know that there currently isn’t enough support for mental health in boxing. It’s great to see that England Boxing has signed the Mental Health Charter, but more needs to be done to support boxing coaches.
“With Sport England’s estimated total of 3.1 million people who have coached sport in the last year, providing specialised support is more important than ever. I’m excited to help promote Mind’s Mental Health Awareness Training throughout the year as I believe this is a vital first step that all areas of the industry should partake in.”
Steph Ware, boxercise student said:
“Duke is an amazing coach, his energy and enthusiasm for people and for the sport of boxing are absolutely second to none. My boxercise sessions with Duke have had a huge impact on my life, helping to boost my confidence and literally fight my depression head on. Since beginning boxercise, I have competed in 4 amateur boxing bouts and completed my master’s degree in Sport Management.”
Paul Farmer, CEO for Mind said:
“We’re delighted to have Duke’s continued support and are confident that his commitment to Mind and our programmes will strike a chord with coaches and sportspeople alike across the country and inspire them to start a conversation about mental health.”