At this year’s Bank of Scotland Great Scotland Great Scottish Run, Bank of Scotland (part of Lloyds Banking Group) are encouraging runners to raise funds for Mental Health UK.
Lloyds Banking Group’s partnership with the charity aims to promote the vital work Mental Health UK is doing to tackle a range of mental health challenges faced by communities’ right across the UK, including communities around Scotland.
Training for the event, which takes place on Sunday 29th September, is also a good way to commit to regular activity to help manage your own mental health and wellbeing.
Laura Peters, Head of Advice and Information at Mental Health UK explains, “One in four of us is affected by a mental health problem each year in the UK, but self-management and progress lags far behind physical health.
“We’re all used to talking about how fitness and healthy eating can control diabetes or heart disease, and by taking the same positive approach to mental health we can deliver real change, not only by using exercise to strengthen recovery for people affected by mental health problems, but also to prevent poor mental health in the first place through being active.”
Kevin Brown, a dad from Ayrshire, is running the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run Half Marathon. Kevin set up the Fit Ayrshire Dads (FADS) Facebook group in August 2018 to help men in his local area try and become the best versions of themselves.
The group now has over 2500 members and regularly sees a couple of hundred men actively taking part in different sports each week, with many more using the page as motivation and inspiration.
After making the decision to get fit and healthy himself, Kevin saw the difference the changes had made to his own mental health and the benefits to his family. He knew there would be many men out there who were in a similar position and wanted to create a safe place to help them to start their own journeys to better physical and mental health.
Kevin said, “We arrange lots of group activities most nights of the week and every weekend. This is done on the page by the guys, and can be runs, swimming, hill walking, badminton, cycling and many more.
“One of our most popular activities is a walk and talk session where the guys can meet up and go for a good walk, chat about their day, struggles, frustrations , whatever they want, just a chance to clear the head of everyday life.
“I was aware when I made the page of high suicide rates amongst men in Ayrshire and was determined to bring a halt to that. Through the page I encourage men not to bottle things up and the members to support one another. We have members, who many would never suspect suffer with ongoing mental health issues, just everyday men who now openly admit the page has saved their life.
“I encourage the men to believe in themselves, to aspire to achieve things. The endorphins they get from the training and the events they sign up to makes them feel good and believe they can do even more.
“It’s part of their evolution from being unhappy within themselves to being the best they can be for them and their families. The sense of pride they share their first 5 or 10k, get that PB time, or climb a Munro is amazing to see and I encourage them to keep pushing the boundaries and believing they are capable of even more.”
Laura Peters agrees with this approach, “Some studies have shown people who do regular physical activity have up to a 30% lower risk of depression. Exercise is proven to have a hugely positive impact on the quality of life of people severely affected by mental illness, helping to; improve mood, reduce symptoms of stress and anger, alleviate anxiety and even to slow down cognitive decline.
“Physical activity provides all-important social interaction, meaningful use of time and empowerment for those dealing with mental health issues, who are often more vulnerable.”
Kevin keeps the rules of the FADS group simple, “No negativity, only support and encouragement and my friends who help with the admin and I make sure we moderate the page so that this is upheld. The page is so strong now, if a guy tonight was to post that he is struggling with something, he can have over 100 comments from different FADS offering help, support, go for a coffee and these are strangers. It’s amazing to see.
“Our range of guys goes from around 20 years old to pensioners, from obese to cancer survivors. We help all men from all walks of life.”
Kevin is taking part in the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run Half Marathon with members of the Fit Ayrshire Dads group.
Anyone can sign up to the event and choose to fundraise for Mental Health UK, to find out more or enter today please visit www.greatscottishrun.com