Research into the impact of challenges on mental health
The team of 8 riders, ranging from their 30s to their 50s, are made up of both serving military personnel and veterans with a range of psychological and physical challenges and one of their aims, as well as completing the 3,000 mile cycle race, is to raise awareness about mental health.
The research is studying the impact of extreme physical challenge during the race itself, during the training and preparation before it and then for a 12-month period afterwards. Many participants taking part in such extreme challenges get what is often known as ‘post-expedition blues’, but with the right support, the hope is that such challenges can develop a positive mind-set and a provide a greater degree of resilience for daily life.
Baselines have been established, and the team’s progress is being monitored to see if following the event they have gained tangible benefits and transferable skills into other parts of their lives, such as employment and education.
Professor David Shearer, who is Professor in Elite Performance Psychology at the University of South Wales is advising Leadership Challenges on the research process and as a sports psychologist will be supporting the team during the event, said:
“At the University of South Wales, we have developed a strong relationship with the military, and we hope that working with Leadership Challenges will lead the way for future projects. By understanding more about the effects of this type of challenge on mental health, we hope to develop ways that events such as the Race Across America can improve resilience and have lasting positive benefits.”