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10 October 2022

Recognising the importance of World Mental Health Day, we hear from Pastor Simon Bailey, racing’s National Chaplain on this year’s theme: ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority.’

The theme of World Mental Health Day for 2022 is: ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’. Just reading through this year’s title makes me feel like the task is too huge. In turning on the news or buying a newspaper, it is not difficult to see how the anxiety of people can be raised just by listening to headlines. If I thought about tackling world mental health, then the task would seem impossible but, as always, we are reminded about our responsibility in changing the environment that we can affect. If, as individuals, we start to make a difference in our own areas of influence, we can hope that others are doing the very same in theirs. 

Trying to put fears in perspective

Hope has been the keyword that I have used during other mental health awareness campaigns, and I can feel my anxiety levels rising by trying to come up with a different message. The fact remains that in the horseracing industry and the towns that we serve, hope really is what is needed. In talking about sport, we cannot ignore that the people who work in our industry are affected by health issues, the current energy crises, the rumours of war etc. As chaplains, we have the responsibility to hear peoples’ fears and to try to put some of these in perspective. In listening we are telling people that we care enough about their problems and want to walk with them through difficult times. 

The great part is seeing what we do in partnership. Where we cannot help, then we know there are organisations who can. For practical help, Racing Welfare have seen initiatives like the financial grants for racing staff well used and much needed. These can be a great start to better mental health, as they can ease the pressure of rising costs during the winter months. 

Again, relationship is something I often talk about. Chaplaincy, in relationship with racing’s organisations offers a fuller support than just being a stand-alone service. Whatever the issues of an individual are, there is help available if staff need it. 

Right words at right time

And so, the message for this year is again one of hope. My hope for the future was from a reading many years ago. In facing adversity, the words “Do not worry…” jumped off the page. It doesn’t need to be extensive counselling, though this could help some. It just needs to be the right words at the right time, no matter how simple and we can change perspective on our lives. 

There is help available and it is my hope again this year that it will be used and appreciated more than ever. 

Racing staff can access support from the Chaplaincy Service to Horseracing, regardless of their religious beliefs, or lack of them. Racing Welfare offers a wide range of approaches to the support of the industry’s workforce and among these is the chaplaincy service. The service provides support to individuals or to entire yards or studs, at times of pain, loss, anxiety, trauma or need.

The service was first introduced in 2000, increasing support options available to stud, stable and support staff working in the Newmarket area. In 2014, this was expanded and Pastor Simon Bailey was appointed as a National Chaplain to Horseracing to build a pastoral care team for the support of racing staff throughout the UK.

To find out more information on Racing Welfare’s chaplaincy service click here.

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