Paul Oxborough, Founder of Mental Health Motorbike.
After 12+ months of lock down people's driving skills are very rusty and there is a sense of increased urgency to get places. To support and avoid a spike in road traffic accidents, Paul Oxborough, Founder of Mental Health Motorbike joined forces with Heidi Limbert from Bristol Advanced Motorcyclists to deliver a talk to IAM RoadSmart Solent on Enjoying a Smarter Ride encouraging members to check they are in the correct headspace before riding.
We’d like to take this opportunity to tell you more about Paul Oxborough, Mental Health Motorbike, where it all began and how it’s growing: -
After losing a friend to suicide I decided I needed to dedicate my time to improving the stigma around mental health. This led to launching Mental Health Motorbike (MHM) in March 2020, a mental health support service, on a mission to promote greater awareness of mental health.
We are determined to break down social isolation for those experiencing poor mental health, and to build a diverse and inclusive community of volunteers that support and educate the motorbike community on how to improve their mental health and longer-term wellbeing.
Being a lifelong biker for more than three decades and with a desire to create an open and safe platform where people can discuss their mental health, it seemed fitting to create a community of support for those with motorbikes in common.
We know suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK, and after more than 12 months of restrictions in the UK people have found their support networks disappear and the number of people struggling with poor mental health is increasing.
At Mental Health Motorbike we are training bikers in the adult mental health first aid course and aiming to build the country’s first free dedicated support network for bikers across the country. Since October 2020 we have training over 70 bikers.
Our community know that riding can positively affect self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and stress levels. We are often told how to tune out anything that’s not relevant to the road, and the enjoyment of being outside and in and around nature is accelerated when on the bike. Lockdown has been a difficult time for bikers.
Another aspect to MHM is music. Music has played a big part in group discussions and posts on the Mental Health Motorbike Facebook Group. We did an experiment to find the ultimate mental health top 200 playlist over a two-week period. The criteria for the playlist is it has to be the one song that gets you through a difficult time. This generated so much energy and we are proud to share a really powerful and eclectic playlist with you.
The playlist really echoes the diversity of the group itself and looking at the analytics the playlist is getting so many users every day. You can find the full playlist here.
Our aim this year is to attend a minimum of 25 events, reaching out to the biker community. Many of our volunteers are people recovering from mental health issues and they will represent us at these events.
Although we are at the early stages of development, we recognise there is nobody else providing a service like this, so we are a unique organisation that is generating a great deal of interest and have high ambitions. The biggest is to become a charity in the summer of 2021.