While many were already aware of the importance of mental well-being, a few have realized it during the quarantine. When your mind isn’t healthy, a lot can go downhill. Alex Staniforth understands that mental health needs a lot of attention as he has been through tough times. This is why he created a charity that helps people cope with their ill mental health. He just took up an incredible challenge to raise funds for the same!
Having a healthy mind is if utmost importance if one wishes to live a peaceful and positive life. Alex Staniforth, 25, from Kendal, experienced some lowest points in his life when he suffered with his mental health. He was even dealing with an eating disorder bulimia since 2012.
“Mental ill health is probably the biggest challenge I’ve faced. Since 2012 I’ve suffered with the eating disorder bulimia and several bouts of depression, anxiety and panic attacks,” he explained.
“As a male athlete I was ‘supposed to be mentally tough’ and it was incredibly daunting to speak about my eating disorder.”
He described how hard it was for him to respond to therapy initially. That’s when he found the positive impact of physical exercise and being outdoors on one’s mental health. So, he took one step towards helping people who are fighting similar battles. He co-founded the charity, Mind Over Mountains!
“Finding the outdoors and exercise has been the most powerful tool for managing my mental health. After an initial pilot event, myself and my mentor/friend Chris decided to form the charity to help other people experience the same benefits,” he shared.
“We now have a small core team of people passionate about the power of the outdoors for mental well-being,” Alex revealed. “Our groups are intentionally small so we create an inclusive and confidential space for people, but we’ve delivered four programmes for over 50 people so far and a Mental Health First Aid course at a discounted rate.”
Alex admitted that his charity would cater for everyone who wants help to achieve a healthy mind. From the ones with piled-up stress to others suffering from severe issues including schizophrenia, PTSD, and bipolar disorder.
He is sparing no effort to raise money for his charity. Recently, he completed an impressive challenge and managed to raise £10,000!
This dedicated 25-year-old said, “On 30 August I completed my challenge to run the National Three Peaks – this involves climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, except I ran the entire distance between them – over 450 miles in nine days, 12 hours and 51 minutes. Seventeen marathons in total and almost 50 miles per day.”
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Ben Nevis to England in 4 days. 198 miles. Scotland very nearly broke me. Now the Lakes are in sight. . . Fell behind again yesterday at Crawford (48 miles) despite a big boost from @jonnyrobin and @roger.wightman boosting the pace and @aviewfrommycamera42 driving alongside me into the night. He never stopped believing in me when I stopped believing in myself. Today I started 15 miles behind with an extra 40 miles after Moffat at 11am. Made good progress on flat roads until Lockerbie but the tarmac has trashed my feet until only walking a mile, running a mile. After amazing support this far Rich passed the baton onto fellow adventurer @howlettp who came to join me for the final marathon. @fbroon also surprised me on the bike as did Kath and her kids who ran for a few miles. Time flew until I had a bad wobble. Plodded the remainder to the English border in Gretna. Fallen 8 miles short again at 50 miles. Not going to make Scafell Pike safely tomorrow but will just keep moving. Thanks all. www.givey.com/3peaksrun
Alex did not hesitate for even a second before he stepped into the tasks that demanded both physical and mental strength. He finished it just in time during the week that observes the Suicide Prevention Day. He completed what he took up!
“This was aiming to raise £10,000 for Mind Over Mountains and break the current record. I’d been running since 3.30am on the final day and sleep deprivation caught up with me (I even had a kip in a bus stop) so sadly missed the record by over an hour,” he expressed.
“I sprained my ankle a few weeks before starting the challenge and had Storm Francis on the way so I’m quite pleased regardless.”
Alex reached his goal of raising £10,000 and he couldn’t be happier and more grateful!
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"How far to the top mate?” . I’ve been asked this countless times on Snowdon over the years in all conditions and on the various routes. Last Sunday it was my turn. The top had never felt so far away. Anything above a slow plod pushed my heart rate too high, I couldn’t swallow food properly, two powernaps (including a bus stop), a call from @aviewfrommycamera42 and motivational songs couldn’t offer any second wind. The last time I had felt exhaustion like it was descending in the Himalayas and I was scared of becoming a total liability when so close to the finish. Like on Everest, that’s when most of the accidents happen. So I decided to abandon the record attempt and get the third peak done safely. If I kept putting one foot in front of the other I would get there, eventually. . Luckily I had Jon the photographer with me all the way. On the summit we found a huge Bank Holiday queue for the summit cairn and Jon wasted no time making an announcement that I’d ran from Scotland on a record attempt and some people believed him (I probably looked the part) and began to cheer and let me skip the queue for a hasty summit selfie. . Mum was on the phone urging me to run down. I could see Llanberis 5 miles below and knew on a good day I can run up/down in less than 2 hours. But this wasn’t the day. I’d pulled my Achilles and even walking was hard enough. I just had to keep moving. . 1 hr 12 mins feels so insignificant now. It’s easy to ask ‘what if?’. Records are there to be broken. They come and go. The journey and the memories last for a lifetime. . #3peaksrun #3peakschallenge #snowdon #mindovermountains #recordattempt
He talked about his charity and what they want to accomplish and said, “We offer guided walks in the UK mountains alongside professional coaching, mindfulness, inspirational speakers and a safe confidential space for people to ‘walk and talk’ with like-minded people.”
“We believe that spending time in nature is the most powerful way to build resilience to stay physically and mentally well. We provide bursaries for people who are unemployed or in difficult circumstances so that everyone can benefit,” he added.
They continue to spread awareness about mental health. The team helps people cope with all the anxiety they developed during the lockdown.
“Seeing people re-connecting and enjoying the outdoors again after these months of isolation was inspiring and heart-warming to see. Even if it’s just a small group, we can still make a big difference,” Alex concluded.