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13 May 2021

As part of Racing Together’s support of Mental Health Awareness Week, we invited Christina Sell of Racing Welfare to share her passion for Mental Health & Wellbeing and her hopes for a new industry survey.

It is fair to say that when I first began working in racing that I was focused on the horses and the racing aspect more so than the human participant side. However, that soon changed when I undertook my BHA graduate placement with Racing Welfare and, having studied Sociology at undergraduate level, it felt like working with racing’s people was meant to be my path.

Alongside their trusted thoroughbred counterparts, people are at the very heart of this industry and working every day to improve the wellbeing of those people is a real privilege. I cannot remember when my interest in mental health developed but having had close friends that have suffered with mental health issues, it made me want to understand why we don’t place as much importance on looking after our mental health as we do our physical health.

Research at the heart of our work

Fast forward to 2018/19 and Racing Welfare was undertaking its first piece of research with Liverpool John Moores University into how the workforce was feeling mentally, and the rest is history.  Alongside my role at the time as Trust Fundraising Executive, I jumped at the chance to offer my support to our Director of Welfare, Simone, in managing the research from our side of things. We worked with a great team at LJMU and together we were able to survey the industry totalling around circa 1,600 repsonses. The research provided the industry with priority recommendations to improve participants mental health.

There is always more to be done and achieved in this area, and nothing reflects its importance more than Mental Health Awareness Week.  

We can all share natural surroundings

Horseracing is best placed to maximise on the theme of this year’s MHAW campaign, Nature. Stepping away from my desk and spending time outside with my horses and dogs has been my saviour over the past 14 months while, like everyone, I have battled with the complexities and strains that Covid-19 has brought.

I am never prouder to work for Racing Welfare than when we get the opportunity to give voice to the beneficiaries we support. This year our MHAW film, produced by Equine Productions, has been a delight to see come to life. It demonstrates how the power of nature can help us overcome depression or anxiety, or more simply how paying attention to our natural surroundings takes the mind off our daily struggles.

I have been lucky to have changed roles within the charity several times, and none more so than my current role as Project Lead for the Industry Wellbeing Strategy. This was a role that was advertised after having completed the Thoroughbred Horseracing’s Industry’s MBA, which encouraged me to think and act strategically as well to think about the bigger picture (blue sky thinking if you like!).

Add your voice to survey

On the 21st April, the industry launched its Wellbeing Strategy and Committee alongside its first actionable item, The ‘Wellbeing Across the Horseracing Industry Survey.’ This crucial piece of work is the first of its kind and looks to establish a baseline that measures the entire workforce’s wellbeing.

It is SO important that as many people as possible complete the survey from all sectors of the sport. The survey closes at midnight this Sunday (16th), so please take this opportunity to have your voice heard. The results will help the committee ensure change happens and that the amazing services currently on offer to support our people can be developed further to better suit the needs of the workforce.

The survey can be accessed via the link below:

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