A former electrician who changed his life after a battle with depression is taking on his first 10k run to raise awareness of mental health issues in men.
Andy Smith, from Oldham, gave up his job as an electrician to become a youth worker after battling depression since his childhood, and wants to send a message to young men to say that if you’re struggling mentally, talk to someone.
The 27-year-old father of two is now taking on the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run on Sunday 20 May to raise money for Mind.
He said: “Two years ago, having been through a lot of stress, I began to develop a real anxiety and sunk into depression which I believe had already been there for some time, but was triggered and made worse by various factors.
“Being so young, and juggling a full time job that required lots of travelling and stress and the fact that I was trying to raise a young family and provide for them put a lot of pressure on me.
“This was coupled with the fact that I was still holding onto childhood hurts and pains that I didn’t even know were still lingering.
“My wife and I went through the horror of losing a baby through miscarriage and that also added to the baggage I was carrying around with me.
“I felt like I had to be strong and, working in the trade, was particularly hard as I felt like I had to just man up and get on with it.
“Things got really bad in the summer of 2016 and I began to self-harm as a cry for help.
“Thankfully that help came. My wife and I went to the doctors who put me through counselling and in contact with online Mind resources and I started opening up for the first time in my life about my mental health.”
Andy decided to leave his job as an electrician to take on a full time job as a youth worker for Eden Westwood Community Project, which is linked to Firwood Church in Oldham.
He wants to help the youth that are struggling with mental health and various other issues, to mentor them and help them understand that they have purpose and life is worth living.
He continued: “I have always had a strong faith in God so I knew I had the support of the Church, but still felt slightly silly and embarrassed to talk to anyone.
“My church was so supportive and has been there all the way through. My wife has stuck by me through thick and thin.
“Counselling is a gift and I couldn’t recommend it enough. It’s amazing to know there are people that dedicate their lives professionally to helping other people talk about issues they’d otherwise keep locked away.”
The Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run includes a half marathon, Junior and Mini events and the UKs biggest 10K run, which welcomes people of all ages and abilities to a running celebration in the heart of the city centre.
Heading out of town the course goes past Old Trafford, the Imperial War Museum and the Lowry before heading back to the spectator packed finish line in the shadow of Beetham Tower on Deansgate.