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During the long months of the pandemic, millions of us turned to nature, including me. I became quite neurotic about how I could attract birds to my garden. I tried every type of food and tactics but soon realised nature needed a few more trees and hedges to hide in. I am glad to say we are getting some regular visitors now.
Mark Rowland wrote that their research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic showed going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health. Websites which showed footage from webcams saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more.
Nature is our great untapped resource for a mentally healthy future, it is central to our psychological and emotional health. In the US a study found that patients who were treated in hospitals with a view of nature recovered faster. So during Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 they hope to raise awareness and inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways and to convince decision makers at all levels that access to and quality of nature is a mental health and social justice issue as well as an environmental one.
Mind are asking you to join in with them and the Mind community to speak out and share why fighting for mental health is important to you. Whether you’re fighting for your younger self who struggled with depression, for your friend on CAMHS waiting list or simply for properly funded mental health services. Whether you use social media or speak with friends, family or colleagues – help create a movement.
If you’re sharing on social media, remember to tag Mind and use the hashtags #mhaw #fightforMH to make sure you’re joining in the conversation. The coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on our mental health. Help their Infoline be there for everyone so they all have someone to talk to when it becomes too much. Help them reach more people feeling trapped and isolated with our peer support networks and advice on staying well. And help them to continue campaigning to protect your rights and support your needs. Donate here.
Mind provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding and they won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.
After Boris eased lockdown restrictions, it fired the starting gun to boost mental health for millions. Last week, one of the sector’s governing bodies, England Athletics, published guidelines giving event organisers an official ‘green light’ to start staging organised races again, provided they are “Covid-secure”.
Co-founder of RunThroughMatt Wood, staged a very successful events day at Kempton Park on Saturday where 500 runners completed 5k, 10h, half marathon and marathon events. The website traffic on RunThrough was up 100% as runners stretched their legs, head outdoors and re-connected with race friends after the lock lockdown misery.
7 million people across UK (almost one in 10) turned to running or jogging to care for their mental health during Covid crisis, Macmillan Cancer Support survey revealed last month
One in seven in UK (14%) told charity that going running or jogging had helped them to de-stress since the first lockdown last March
43% of UK runners exercising more now than before pandemic; 82% of UK runners say running plays a key role in helping them clear their mind during lockdown, according to survey by top running brand ASICS
RunThrough’s first 2021 Covid-secure events attracted 500 runners on Easter Saturday April 3 when 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon events were staged at Kempton Park racecourse.
BBC Television attended Kempton Park to report on RunThrough’s return event day, broadcasting live to 6 million viewers on BBC One’s ‘Breakfast’ show
The leading mass-participation running events and endurance sports organiser also announced plans to help host 200 races during the next year – a welcome Easter treat for Britain’s estimated 7 million runners.
Matt Wood, RunThrough’s Co-Founder and a former International distance runner, said: “This is the brilliant news our community have all been waiting for.
“After last year’s lockdown, between August and December, we put on around 25% of all races in the UK, with Covid awareness measures in place. We’ve gained more experience than any other UK events company in staging events in this safe way.
“Now, after people have been cooped up in lockdown for months, huge pent-up demand from runners has built up. We’ve seen a major surge in bookings for our 2021 events calendar and our website traffic has shot up by over 100%.”
RunThrough Founders Matt Wood and Ben Green pioneered their ‘Covid Safety Protocol’ last autumn involving 20 strict measures ensuring runners and race marshals stayed safe.
A Bit About Matt Wood… Matt Wood, 34, an ex-England track athlete, who before lockdown staged 136 UK events in 2019 attracting 122,000 runners, added: “This year, we’re expecting our 200 events to attract between 150,000-180,000 people.
“Last year, we developed a blueprint for Covid-safe races. Before race day, to reduce contact, we sent out race packs to runners early so participants can arrive ‘ready-to-race’. When people arrive at our race village, they are greeted by marshals, some wearing full-face visors and all wearing PPE.
“As well as face shields, our staff also wear gloves to reduce the risk of germ transmission. We have sanitiser stations with hand gels and runners are discouraged from bringing belongings so we can reduce contact with others in baggage areas.”
RunThrough, who as well as staging mass-participation races also organise some of the fastest road-closed events in the UK involving elite athletes and regional championships, have employed other Covid-safe measures including:
Runners are encouraged to bring their own water bottles to eliminate the need for water stations
Group pre-race warmups are conducted at a socially safe distance
Marshals are briefed to maintain distance from runners while keeping the same friendly relationship
Queues for the toilet cabin facilities are distanced and cubicle hygiene
Signs remind runners to observe a 2-metre social distance and no spitting is allowed
At support desks, waist-high plastic sheeting protects stewards and runners from getting too close
At the start runners line up at coloured cones are laid out at distances on the ground
“Our starts are staggered and runners are guided to set off in waves of 4 to 6 to ease congestion,” added Wood. “And fast runners are asked to give slower participants space when overtaking, of around 2 metres.
RunThrough Events was founded in 2013 by Matt Wood and Ben Green. They began their friendship in their teens at school exactly 20 years ago and went on to both become International distance runners. Today, powered by their experience as ex-England track athletes and their shared passion for running, RunThrough has grown to become one of the UK’s largest and most popular running event organisers.
During their last full year operating before Covid, RunThrough staged 140 events across the UK, attracting more than 140,000 runners. This year, as lockdown eases, they already have 200 events booked in.
RunThrough have staged events at many prestigious locations, including popular London venues such as Hyde Park, Greenwich Park, Regents Park, Clapham Common, Richmond Park and Battersea Park, as well as Hampton Court Palace, Knebworth House, Colchester Zoo, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Thorpe Park. They also collaborate with other major UK tourist attractions such as Aintree Racecourse, Tatton Park, Media City and many more.
Business duo Matt and Ben (Matt’s one year younger) work together closely as entrepreneurs. But as runners, they’re close rivals. Matt, who won an athletics scholarship to study Sports & Exercise Science at Loughborough University and also completed a Law Conversion Diploma in Law, frustratingly saw his pro career cut short in 2007 when he suffered a stress injury, breaking his femur. After surgery, and a plaster cast, he hobbled on crutches for six months.
In 2015, Ben, who also studied at Loughborough, had his own spectacular break. He broke the Guinness World Record at the London Marathon for the fastest father / son time, Ben running 2.30 and his Dad 2.31. Ben, from Warrington (Matt hails from Blackburn), now enjoys taking part in RunThrough events on a regular basis.
One of RunThrough’s missions is to encourage the promotion of active health in the UK and, by staging more than a thousand races over the years, they have made a major positive impact on their growing community. They are also proud to have raised money for a number of charities along the way.
The vibrant, health-conscious team behind RunThrough focus all their efforts on ensuring that runners who attend their events enjoy the experience, whether they’re getting a buzz from taking part in their first-ever event, chasing a Personal Best (PB), are taking part to benefit from boosting their physical health and mental wellbeing, or just want to enjoy the occasion socially and make new friends. For more details on events happening throughout this year head to the RunThrough’s website.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT )is now a well known therapy for many different health problems, including chronic pain and other chronic illnesses. This is because physical health problems can affect people’s moods and their lives in so many different and distressing ways.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that aims to help you manage your problems by changing how you think and act, and showing people how to recognize and change unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving. This allows them to be less affected by unhelpful moods and to enjoy life more, even if they still have pain. Over the last couple of decades cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has become an accepted first line psychosocial treatment which can help patients to deal with chronic pain, including low back pain.
The NHS add it to their talking therapies list which are offered in different ways, including
using a self-help workbook with the support of a therapist
as an online course
over the phone
in a group
At its simplest, it is a technique for helping people replace habitual negative thinking with positive thinking, by getting them to see the glass as half full not half empty.
CBT encourages you to talk about:
how you think about yourself, the world and other people
how what you do affects your thoughts and feelings
By talking about these things, CBT can help you to change how you think (‘cognitive’) and what you do (‘behaviour’), which can help you feel better about life.
It’s now available on the NHS and CBT usually involves weekly or fortnightly sessions with a therapist. The number of sessions required varies greatly depending on your problems and objectives, with treatment usually lasting from six weeks to six months.
One patient said, ‘I was able to move forward and learn to cope and accept my pain. They taught me how to pace myself better and that in turn meant I was able to laugh again a bit more often, instead of just thinking about my pain all the time’.
The best way to try CBT for chronic pain is to talk to your GP first who will have a list of professional CBT therapists. They can then point you in the right direction for getting your treatment. Of course, there are waiting lists for this type of treatment on the NHS but you could always see someone privately.