#RunAndTalk Champion, Andy Collings

At Tring Running Club we support the England Athletics mental health initiative #RunAndTalk, which is also supported by the mental health charity Mind.

The aim of #RunAndTalk is to improve mental health through running.

I volunteered to be the club’s first Mental Health Champion because, firstly in 2009 I was diagnosed with depression. I know how difficult it is to speak to somebody and to ask for help. Through running and with the help of friends and counselling I am able to enjoy life.

That’s not to say I have good days and bad days. For many years I hid my feelings from others, not wanting to appear weak. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. When I look back now I can see that my depression went back many years into my youth. This explained a lot about my behaviours and excessive drinking.

It was not until around 2018 when the police service (my employers) introduced mental health ambassadors that I started to open up. Even then I was guarded. In October 2019 I stopped drinking and now talk about my past openly. I’m honestly not sure how much longer I could have gone on without doing so.

My second reason for volunteering is that my daughter, who is 20, is suffering from anxiety and depression and has done so for a few years.

Mental health knows no bounds; it can affect each and every one of us. Together we need to get rid of the stigma that is attached to mental health. It’s time to reach out and it is time to talk. We often ask somebody how they are, but do we really mean it?

My role as mental health ambassador is:
– To promote wellbeing through running
– To work with the club to help members improve their wellbeing through running
– To support new people who are experiencing mental health problems to start running, return to running or continue running. I believe that as a club of people who get so many benefits from running, we must invite people into our community.

This is more important now than ever before.

I have two important messages for you now.

One is, please talk to someone if you’re feeling low. It could be a friend, somebody from the running club, family, your GP or a Mental Health Practitioner. Just talking to somebody and sharing, instead of bottling things up can help.

Secondly, if you know of anyone who might need to talk, please reach out to them. Better yet, encourage them to come with you for a jog or walk whilst you have a chat.

All the best,

Andy Collings.