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Mental Health first aid support for all motorcyclists

The BMF has lent its full support to Mental Health Motorbike, a newly registered charity which aims to offer mental health first aid to motorcyclists.

“This initiative is brilliant, particularly after two years of the pandemic, which has stressed the mental health of so many, particularly those who live on their own. As suicide is a primary cause of death amongst young men, in particular, this couldn’t be more timely. I wish Paul every success and the BMF will do whatever it can to support MHM,” said BMF Chair Jim Freeman.

“The idea came out of a difficult situation,” says founder Paul Oxborough. “We lost a friend to suicide and decided we had to do something about it. Having been a motorcyclist for so long, I knew that community and thought that was a good place to start.”

Paul Oxborough Founding member of MHM 

Paul bought a BMW R1200GS and branded it as the Mental Health Motorbike machine. He also took a two-day training course in mental health first aid, a recognised qualification which has since become MHM’s focus.
“We realised that this had to be an open group,” he adds, “not just for men, which is how we’ve ended up with a very diverse group of people aged from 17-70. One of the things they all have in common is a love of motorcycling. It’s the glue that holds us together.”
In fact, diversity has turned out to be a strength. “Some men can find it difficult to open up to other men,” says Paul, “but when there are women in the group they are more likely to. It’s the same with older people – they can bring their time and experience to help the younger ones.”

Training also became a key focus, offering the two-day mental health first aid course to volunteers. Bennetts Insurance stepped up to help finance a training programme, and by February 2022 over 130 people had been through the course, enabling them to act as a first point of contact, steering those who need it towards professional help.

Once qualified, MHM volunteers can act as facilitators in an online peer support group, one to one support for urgent cases or, if someone just wants a chat, meet up locally.

As well as Bennetts and the BMF, other high profile groups have lined up to support MHM, including Thorneycroft Solicitors, Biker Down and Doc Bike.

MHM has big plans for 2022, aiming to put 1000 volunteers through the mental health first aid course and along with a higher profile at shows, cafes and meeting places.

A full-length article on Mental Health Motorbike will appear in the Spring 2022 issue of Motorcycle Rider, the BMF members’ magazine


Written by Peter Henshaw

All images courtesy of Mental Health Motorbike