Sailor takes on medicine ball challenge to combat stress

A Royal Navy sailor spent a week handcuffed to a heavy medicine ball to raise awareness of the weight that suffering with mental health problems can bring.

Petty Officer Steven Hyland has become the first Royal Navy participant in the challenge, which was originally thought up by Army Sergeant Andy Unwin.

As part of International Men’s Day, Sgt Unwin handcuffed a medicine ball to himself for two weeks, giving a visual representation of the weight and burden that some service personnel and veterans can carry with them every day due to mental health problems.

The challenge picked up some momentum and has since been going for 31 weeks with PO Hyland being one of the latest people to pick up on the challenge.

Raising awareness in this way is an essential first step and one that heralds the fact that Mental Health is one of the four major pillars of the Naval Service Health and Well-Being programme.

WO1 Nick Sharland, Naval Service Mental Health Champion

PO Hyland said: “I’ve chosen to take part in the Medicine Ball challenge because it’s a topic that affects us all, not only service personnel. We need to raise awareness of mental health and erase the stigma associated with it, especially in men our age.

“So, if by me taking part in this challenge we can get people sharing their problems I will have achieved something and if we can raise some money for the charities at the same time that would be great.”

The handover was carried out at Browndown Camp in Gosport on 1st July, and he has since carried the ball with him wherever he’s been all week.

PO Hyland had a few extra activities planned throughout the week, such as a squad run lead by HMS Dauntless’s Physical Training Instructor (PTI) Hannah Wiley, circuits and a day at sea on the P2000 - HMS Pursuer.

Warrant Officer of the Naval Service and Naval Service Mental Health Champion WO1 Nick Sharland said: “What PO Hyland has achieved is a brilliant way of bringing the subject of mental health and fitness into the open, helping to de-stigmatise something which can affect any of us.”

“The career we have chosen is inherently stressful on mind and body and it is important to look after our mental health, fitness and resilience as well as caring for our physical capabilities.

“Raising awareness in this way is an essential first step and one that heralds the fact that Mental Health is one of the four major pillars of the Naval Service Health and Well-Being programme that is due to be launched in September of this year.”

Only taking the medicine ball off to sleep or drive, it made even normal daily tasks seem like a challenge.

The medicine ball has 17 others ready and waiting to take on the challenge and has raised over £4000 for Combat Stress and ABT The Soldiers Charity so far.