Mental health charity PH7 Life has just kicked off its fundraiser: the massive mental walk. We chatted to them about their work, the severity of mental health issues in the UK and how much walking can help you.
“We wanted something that would be a challenge, and bring people together. It is the PH7 belief that mental health can only be solved with the support of people around us”. Said Rebecca Jane, group operations director at PH7.
“We are doing the walk, which is 111 miles, because 111 people take their lives each week. Naturally we needed to highlight suicide, because in the North West there’s a rise in figures whilst the majority of the country stabilises.”
Rebecca pins this trend on the pressure for men in the North to always have a “stuff upper lip”. She says that as a region of industry, it is considered “manly” for men to be emotionally closed off. Rebecca also theorises it could be due to the higher levels of deprivation – as money woes can exacerbate stress.
Death by suicide is currently the leading cause of death for men under 45. While the overall rate of suicide is the lowest its been for ten years, its still incredibly high, with 5,821 deaths in 2017 – about 111 a week.
The £111,000 hope to raise will go towards their free mental health services they provide to those suffering from depression and anxiety. But they also believe that the exercise will help lift the walkers moods.
“Each day of the walk is a serious challenge. The shortest day is 15 miles and the longest is 24. Participants start and accomplish together.”, explained Rebecca. “Seeing them hug each other on the finish line at the end of the day is one of my highlights. You can see the happiness, passion and genuine care they have build with each other”
The walk will take place every Saturday of August (aside from day 3 on a Sunday). All events take place in the North West, with last Saturday’s being from Preston to Blackpool.
According to the Samaritans, one of the leading causes of mental health issues is loneliness. The NHS endorse walking in a group, such as in this massive mental walk, as a great way to keep fit and combat feeling lonely. Even going as far to say it can reduce the chance of depression.
Beth Simons, community fundraising manager at Samaritans said: “At Samaritans we have just completed our first Samarathon where supporters walked, jogged or ran a marathon throughout the month of July. We chose this because getting out and about is great, not only for physical health but for mental well-being too.
The Samarathon proved to be a hit. “Our supporters really embraced the challenge. Raising over £109k for Samaritans so far and told us how they’d enjoyed getting outside and exercising. It helped them feel good.”