A new project is under way in Britain to focus on the metal health of grooms and those employed in the equestrian industry.
‘Grooms Minds’ was launched by the British Grooms Association (BGA) on World Mental Health Awareness Day on October 10. It aims to identify the specific issues associated with mental health within the industry, to allow the BGA to raise awareness and develop within this area. This work will include employees, employers and those who are self employed.
Mental Health is a subject which many people are still not keen to talk about, but an increasing number of grooms, riders and employers had contacted the BGA for help and advice.
The inspiration from the project came from BGA founder and executive director Lucy Katan. “My experience of being bullied whilst working at a high profile dressage yard was the catalyst for the formation of the BGA. It is something that I will never forget, and at the time there was no organisation for me, as a groom, to turn to,” Katan said.
“I am always concerned when we receive communications from grooms who are suffering from mental health issues in their workplace, and the BGA is determined, through the Grooms Minds project, to raise the awareness of such.”
As part of the project the BGA has signed up to the Sport and Recreation Alliance Mental Health Charter. Signatories to this charter must produce an action plan to demonstrate how they are using the power of sport to end the stigma around mental health.
A former groom who has been badly affected by mental health issues said: “Being a groom was my dream career; I enjoyed every aspect of it. My anxiety snuck up on me, grooms are expected to conscientious and a bit OCD so again I was proud to have these qualities. I didn’t feel I could talk to anyone about it because I was angry and disappointed with myself. I hope that the Grooms Minds project will help employers and grooms themselves be more alert to their mental wellbeing.”
The first step in the project is to discover how widespread the issues are and so the BGA is urging that all grooms take part in a quick, anonymous survey.
The result of the survey will then allow phase two of the project and the development of resources available specifically for grooms.