Exercise is often recommended for mental health issues, and one brave woman has spoken out about how running has helped her.
Ellie-Louise Stenson has suffered from mental health problems including eating disorders, self-harm and depression.
The 24-year-old from Mansfield said: "My fiancé encouraged me to take up running with him as a hobby and we then signed up to our first 10K. He then later looked into Mansfield Harriers and again encouraged me to join. I was with Mansfield Harriers as a teenager but unfortunately couldn’t continue because of an eating disorder. I was a sprinter back then and never thought I could do long distance.
"I am so thankful to be alive - to have my health and being able to run makes me feel so grateful for everything.
Ellie has found that running has helped her face her issues: "It is such a free feeling and the way it makes you feel is unexplainable really. It makes me feel like I can do anything and nothing and no one can stop me. It’s time to think, to solve, to ponder or just to be, just you and your body.
"You get the rush of endorphins when you finish a run and feel even better then you start getting quicker and get a personal best. Running just gives you so much accomplishment. Even starting a Saturday by going to park run starts my weekend off so much better because by 9.30am on Saturday I have achieved something.
"The social side has been amazing too, meeting so many wonderful people who welcome you with open arms is so refreshing.
"Running has also helped with my body confidence, having suffered from eating disorders I have always aspired to be small but running has really opened my eyes and made me realise that my actual health means so much more than how I look. Women and men twice my size are overtaking me, doing runs in half my time even. It’s not all about how you look. I don’t aspire to be thin anymore, I just want to be healthy and fit.
"I don’t know where I would be right now if I hadn’tstarted running. It has offered so many different things to my life - I’ve made friends, we’ve travelled to different cities to do runs, I ran the Great North Run for NSPCC enabling me to give something back to a cause I am really passionate about, I always have an aim having a race to train for.
"Running is so much more than the actual act of moving your legs, it’s a great way to overcome mental health issues or at least aid in recovery. The biggest step is putting on those trainers and getting out the door, once you realise you can do it it will help you realise you can do anything if you just give it a chance and push yourself. Running can be a conversation starter, everyone has a story and running can connect you to so many wonderful people.
"The more people talk about mental health the less stigma there is around. Having a campaign aimed at helping people talk, in my view, can only help people with mental health realise they can open up and it is ok to talk.
"It puts you in touch with like-minded people. It also opens people’s mind who don’t suffer from mental health by making them see it is not something to feel ashamed by and judge people on and gives them knowledge about mental health. I hate the idea of someone being ashamed of suffering from mental health and want everyone to understand there is nothing to feel ashamed of.
Ellie is a part of Mansfield Runners, who are taking part in mental health charity Mind’s ‘time to talk’ campaign, which aims to break down down the stigma associated with mental health by getting people talking about it.
During the week of February 2-8, Mansfield Runners are encouraging people to run one mile or further and to have a chat with friends, family, colleagues or other runners.
Mansfield Runners will be meeting at West Notts College’s sports hall on February 7 at 6.30 pm, for a 10k run that will include options for walking, jogging and running so everyone is welcome
Mansfield Runner's sister group Fit to RunMansfield will be offering a 5 km option for newer runners
To register visit www.runtogether.co.uk
Or for more information contact:
Maddy Collinge 07912410057
Join the conversation on social media using #RunAndTalk.