Mental Health Ambassadors
The England Athletics Mental Health Ambassador programme aims to establish a network of volunteer ambassadors in running clubs and groups across England to support people who are experiencing mental health problems to start running, get back into running, or continue running as well as to improve the mental wellbeing of their existing members.
We’re often told that physical activity is good for our bodies and our minds, but we also understand that having a mental health problem can make it difficult to get started for a number of reasons ranging from negative body image, lack of self-esteem to practical reason such as having no one to go with and not knowing where to get started.
#runandtalk is an England Athletics campaign supported by Mind, the Mental Health charity, to improve mental wellbeing through running. The Mental Health Ambassador programme supports #runandtalk. Click here to find out more about #runandtalk.
Become a Mental Health Ambassador
For more information please contact Paula Roberts, Darlington Harriers Mental Health Ambassador, details below.
My name is Paula Roberts, I have been a Darlington Harrier for 2 years (it is now 2017) and this year I decided to apply to England Athletics to become a Mental Health Ambassador. I myself was diagnosed as having Borderline Personality Disorder with Bipolar tendency, and running has helped me a lot over the years with my Mental Health.
With me having BPD for a large part of my life, I have gone through USED (unspecified eating disorders), self-harm, severe depression and manic episodes and suicidal tendencies. There are no drugs that can cure my mental health, I just manage it.
I started running a few months after the birth of my youngest daughter, now 4 and starting school. Because of my disability I had a very troubled time. I started running with the recommendation of my support worker (also a runner), support from my dad who also runs (Paul Roberts) and the agreement of my doctors.
It took a few weeks for me to get myself to go to a club at first, my panic and anxieties on over load, body dysmorphia problems, but I eventually did. Eventually I ran my first 5km in 42:33.
Exercise releases endorphins, these trigger a positive feeling in your body, similar to that of many drugs used to help Mental Health disorders. So running in fact helped with my Mental Health.
But it wasn't just the actual running, the people involved where helping all so.
So now after years of running my mental health is the best it has been, and I am medication free and have been for a long time now. I have lost nearly 2 stone in weight and got much faster. I love the feeling of looking at my race results and seeing a new PB (Personal Best) and living off that high for a few days. Socialising with the members and I haven't laughed so much in a long time.
Although the club didn’t have a MHA programme when I joined when I saw that England Athletics were supporting Mental Health through Ambassadors I jumped at the chance. I want to give anyone struggling with mental health the same support and more to help them on their recovery path. Running has saved me and it can save you too.