Our Mental Health
Mental health describes your mental state: how you are feeling and how you are able to cope with the stresses of day to day life. Although mental health is forever changing with good days and bad days some people suffer from mental health disorders or issues where the balance of good and bad days is interfered with. Mental health is a spectrum from people who are diagnosed with a condition to those who know what their struggles are but don't have a diagnosis. Everyone's own mental health struggles are real and in all honestly difficult to live with and really has an impact on your life. Mental health problems are more common than people think with one in four people experiencing one each year, but nearly two-thirds of people will never seek help because of fear of stigma, discrimination and neglect, where there is neglect, there is little or no understanding, where there is no understanding, there is neglect. The “Time to Change” anti-stigma advertising campaign encourages us to talk about our mental health and attitudes are changing.
We also appreciate that although running can help us mentally, people who do have mental health struggles have an additional hurdle of actually getting started for a number of reasons, ranging from negative body image, or a lack of self-esteem through to practical reason such as having no one to go with, or not knowing where to get started to feeling the loss of mojo. The fear and anxieties of the unknown are very real and act as a barrier for people to get out there and enjoy the benefits that running has to offer. That is where we come in.
We are Mental Health Champions working with England Athletics to help as many people as we can use exercise and more specifically running as a way to better mental health.
We are qualified Running Leaders and run with Run Like A Girl and so we can help with all things running related. We are here to help show you the benefits of running on mental health and help stamp out the stigma on mental health. We will be arranging various events based around running and mental health and we want you to join us, whether you currently don't run, prefer a walk or are happy running a marathon we will have something for everyone.
We are not qualified in mental health, however we do have more than our fair share of experience in mental health.
The #runandtalk campaign aims to improve mental health through running in England by getting people talking about mental health, sharing their experiences and removing stigma by raising awareness and supporting people experiencing mental health problems to be physically active through running, whether that is to support them in starting, returning to or continuing to run.
The run and talk campaign is being supported by the mental health charity Mind and England Athletics and everyone can get involved to support their own mental health, while meeting others in their local community. As Mental Health Champions we support this campaign and will be running numerous Run and Talk events.
These sessions are for you if you're a beginner runner/ jogger, or if you've not run for a while and want a gentle introduction. There is no minimum standard or level of experience. Whether you walk, jog or run are ladies or a gent, we would love for you to get involved.
#runandtalk Thursday 1st February - Time to Talk Day
Please follow us socially and keep up to date with what we are up to.
Meet our Mental Health Champions:
Run Together Mental Health Champion and RLAG Running Leader
I am proud to be a Mental Health Champion for England Athletics and I would like to tell you a bit about myself and why I wanted to become a MHA.
I hope by sharing my experience it will help others to not feel ashamed about their own mental health and to change the stigma surrounding it.
Before I had any experiences of mental health problems I was a happy go lucky teenager, but suddenly that all changed at the age of just 19 when my life was turned upside down by the news that my father had taken his own life, nothing prepares you for shock and from that moment it changed my life forever.
My father suffered in silence with his depression, it was very much a taboo subject and rarely spoken about, he was referred to as a weak person and any stress related illness would’ve been judged on your ability to work and lead a normal life. This to me is totally the opposite of who my Father was he was an amazingly strong hard working man, he achieved so much in his life whilst battling depression alone in a world back then where he would’ve felt totally alone. This is why I feel very strongly about mental health and raising awareness of it. Understanding my father’s illness is how I can now talk openly about it without feeling ashamed or judged. RLAG gave me the opportunity to do this and to enter running events for Mind the mental health charity.
Soon after losing my father I suffered a nervous breakdown and it was a long recovery process. I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for a few years and was diagnosed with OCD 10 years ago.
At first I was ashamed of my OCD but now I’ve learnt to accept it. I know it will never go away, it's a part of me, but I have coping mechanisms and I'm a lot happier and positive about the future, which is why being a mental health ambassador means so much to me and I look forward to helping and supporting others.
Run Together Mental Health Champion, RLAG Running Leader and qualified Mental Health First Aider
I have recently been appointed as a Mental Health Champion for England Athletics, as well as qualifying as a Mental Health First Aider.
I've suffered with general anxiety from a young age, triggered mainly by losing my Mum to breast cancer at the age of 12, and then being brought up by my Father who was battling alcoholism throughout my teenage years and beyond. Unfortunately after several admissions to hospital over a few years my Father passed away due to the alcoholism when I was 27, which triggered a difficult period where I was battling both severe anxiety and depression, which has a negative impact on my relationships with friends and my partner.
I was not sporty in my younger years, and grew up battling my own demons by binge drinking during my university years (and well into my 20s), a time when I made several bad life choices. After my Father's death I became addicted to studying in my spare time, completing a 6 year degree alongside my full time job, which helped me mentally but did nothing for my physical health, in fact I was exhausted most of the time. After joining RLAG at the start of 2016 I found the regular exercise helped me cope much better with the demands of my part time degree, and enhanced my overall well being. I've recently graduated, and found a career that I love, plus running is really helping me to manage my anxiety, (especially now I have no studying to distract myself!). I've also become more confident and recently qualified as a Mental Health First Aider, and am very open to supporting others, especially those that are coping with grief and anxiety.
Run Together Mental Health Champion and Running Leader
Having recently been appointed as a Mental Health Champion for England Athletics I wanted to take a moment to explain firstly why I am excited to take on this role and why I hope that sharing my experiences may help other people to see that there is no shame in Mental Health.
I am no professional, I only speak from my personal experiences and I hope you agree that sometimes these are just as important. As many of you will know I blog about my journey and like to be as open and honest as I possibly can, recovery for me has been a rollercoaster and any mental health illness is never black and white, you are never cured but you can take steps to manage your mental health on a daily basis. Everything I say and do is to try and show people that they are not alone and there is hope. Recovery does exist.
I wanted to be a Mental Health Ambassador because exercise and more specifically running has helped me through some of my mental health issues. Around 11 years ago I was diagnosed with Anorexia, an eating disorder. I was ashamed and at the time I didn't really know what was happening, I struggled my way through university, being a perfectionist and pushing away all of my friends in the process, I tried to get help through different treatments and clinics but nothing seemed to work. What people might not know is Anorexia has nothing to do with weight or food or wanting to be thin. It is everything to do with control, trying to gain control when everything feels a mess. My eating disorder was never in isolation but I suffered from anxiety, severe depression, low self esteem and no body confidence. When things hit rock bottom I was admitted to an eating disorder clinic to help me get better. I dealt with the issues around food and began to explore the causes and root issues to the eating disorder.
On discharge I reached a healthy weight and that is when I found running. I had sorted the food and was healthy in body but still struggling in mind. I found running and this changed my life for the better. Running helped me to feel free, gave me an escape and also helped me build confidence in not only my body but in myself and what I could achieve.
After becoming a Running Leader I enjoy helping others reach their goals and more importantly believe in themselves. I found an escape through running and I want people to see that mental health isn't something to be ashamed of. It touches many of our lives in one way or another and what better way to face it than head on, together.
I'm not promising that I have the answers, I'm not qualified in helping you reach the reasons for your mental health issues and I have no qualifications (yet) But what I do have is personal experience, armed with coping techniques and a friendly face.
I'm here to listen and help you see that even when you feel alone, you are not.
Please take the time to talk to us, we are here to listen, run and offer support through our own experiences.
I have also been writing a blog to help others who may be experiencing mental health issues. If you would like to read please do check it out https://thisismerecovery.wordpress.com/
I can't wait to run and talk with you.