England Athletics has announced a nationwide series of #runandtalk events to boost mental health through running in support of Time to Talk Day on 1 February.
Time to Talk Day, which launched in 2014, is dedicated to opening up conversations around mental health, encouraging individuals to come together at home, in the workplace or within their local communities to break the silence around mental health problems.
The #runandtalk events further the same cause by encouraging people of all walks of life to talk openly about mental health issues as they run a mile or more with friends, family, colleagues or running groups.
Supported by mental health charity Mind and a network of over 420 volunteer England Athletics Mental Health Ambassadors, events will take place between 27 January and 4 February. Participants can take part in one of many events organised by local RunTogether groups, road running and athletics clubs, or simply in an orginaised run of their own, with a friend of loved one, at any time and in any location.
No previous running experience is required, either – the campaign isn’t just for runners but encourages people who have never laced up a pair of trainers before to start running and reaping the mental health benefits of regular exercise.
Liz Purbrick, Inclusion Manager at England Athletics, said: “We are really pleased to be supporting Time to Talk Day with #RunAndTalk, along with our Mental Health Ambassador Programme. We are passionate about the benefits running can bring to both physical and mental wellbeing and ensuring it is an activity that is accessible and beneficial to all.”
Running is increasingly being proven to alleviate symptoms of depression and improve overall physical and mental wellbeing. A recent year-long survey conducted by England Athletics, of over 13,000 people across England, revealed that 74 per cent of runners have experienced an increase in their mental health and wellbeing from running. An additional survey showed that an overwhelming 89 per cent of runners had increased happiness as a direct result of running in a group, citing new friendships and an added motivation as key reasons for this.
Ben Smith, who completed 401 marathons in 401 days to raise money for anti-bullying charities, is one of #runandtalk’s high-profile supporters. He said: “I believe that mental health is one of the 21st Century’s biggest issues. When you think about it, your mental health basically governs everything, how you act, how you feel about yourself, how you interact with people. People are really struggling on a day-to-day basis with their mental health – this, twinned with the stigma that is attached to actually talking about it, means so many people suffer in silence. This has a profound impact not only on the individual but on loved ones, friends and our local communities as a whole.
“It’s becoming known that there is a positive link between running and mental health. The freedom, the routine, the confidence, the breaking down of barriers and the interactions and open conversations that seem to happen during a run help.”
To join a #runandtalk organised run, search on MeetUp for your nearest #runandtalk or visit meetup.com/runandtalk/events/ and use #runandtalk on social media to be part of the conversation.