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, in all honesty can be difficult to live with, and can also really impact on someone’s life.
Mental health problems are more common than people think with one in four people experiencing a mental health issue each year, however 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 with physical activity for a number of reasons. This can range from negative body image, a lack of self-esteem or loss of mojo, through to practical reasons such as having no one to go with. 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 towards better mental health.
We are qualified Running Leaders with Run Like A Girl and so we can help with all things running related. We are here to help show you how running can benefit mental health, and also to help stamp out the stigma around being open and talking about mental health. We will be arranging various events based around running and mental health and we invite 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 mental health practitioners, however we do have more than our fair share of experience in mental health and promoting mental health awareness.
The #runandtalk campaign aims to improve mental health through running in England by getting people talking about mental health. It provides an opportunity for people to share their experiences while being active, 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 #runandtalk 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 #runandtalk events.
These sessions are for you whether you're a beginner runner/ jogger or an experienced runner, 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.
#walkandtalk: Thursday 2 May, a 2 mile walk in Leamington. Meet at Jephson Gardens at 10.15am, finishing with drinks and a chat at the Royal Pug on Regent Street.
Stress Awareness week is happening from May 13th - 19th, and the following events are taking place:
MHA Virtual Challenge: Monday May 13 - Sunday May 19: The challenge is to keep active during the week of the 13th-19th May, and that can be anything from a walk, a jog, a run, a bike ride, a swim, anything active counts each day for 7 days, so similar to RED January, where we encourage and support you to keep active and feel the benefits towards your mental health. It costs £12 to enter with a fabulous medal if you complete the challenge. (Proceeds are split between Springfield Mind and Mental Health Together, both active in the local Leamington & Warwick community). To sign up please either join the event on Facebook: Mental Health Together, or e-mail email@example.com. Alternatively speak to Karen Parkinson or Sarah Richards at a RLAG session. The challenge is open to everybody, so please spread the word with family and friends.
#runandtalk: Wednesday 15 May, 5k run for Stress Awareness Week, (includes an option to walk 2.5 k). Please join us for a Run and Talk starting and finishing at the Cricketers Arms, Leamington. There will be two options, a 5km run and a 2.5km walk option available. #runandtalk is suitable for all abilities, whether you choose to run the 5km or walk the 2.5km route, there will be together volunteers supporting you all the way. The event will start at 19.15, meet at the Archery Road entrance to Victoria Park just past the Cricketers, where we will run a loop route returning to the Cricketers for a drink and chat. Everyone is welcome so please join our event and invite friends, partners and family members, minimum age 16 years. We are also supporting the #runandrevise campaign, which is aimed at younger people 16-25 years olds to look after their wellbeing through running. Please encourage the younger members of your family or friends to join us for a run or walk. Full details will be posted in the event. Will be followed with drinks, snacks and a chat at the Cricketers Arms pub. **If you are intending to join us please join the event on the “Mental Health Together” Facebook page, or e-mail us (see below for address). as the pub provides our snacks for free and we like to advise them on numbers**.
#walkandtalk: Sunday 19 May, a short relaxing walk around Crackley Woods and the Greenway in Kenilworth, where the bluebells will hopefully be in full bloom. Open to walkers of all abilities, feel free to brings friends/partners/dogs. Meet at the woods 10.15am, bring drinks and snacks to enjoy after the walk.
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 and qualified Mental Health First Aider
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 MHC.
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, at first I felt ashamed but now I’ve learnt to accept it. I have coping mechanisms and I'm a lot happier and positive about the future, which is why being a Mental Health Champion 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 13, and then being brought up by my Dad who was battling alcoholism throughout my teenage years and beyond. Unfortunately after several admissions to hospital over a few years my Dad passed away due to the alcoholism when I was 27. This triggered a difficult period where I was overwhelmed by both anxiety and depression, which had a negative impact on my relationships with friends and my partner David.
I was not sporty in my younger years (although strangely I always volunteered to run the 1500m for my class on sports day!). I grew up battling my own demons by binge drinking during my teenage years (and well into my 20s), a time when I made several bad life choices. After my Dad’s death I became addicted to something very different, completing a 6 year BSc degree alongside my full time HR job. This helped me to become more focussed 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 wellbeing. I graduated in 2018, found a career that I love, and after joining RLAG improvers have found that running is really helping me to manage my anxiety, (especially now I have no studying to distract me!). 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.