Newcastle Students Running For Mental Health

Newcastle University’s Psychology Society will be taking on the Simplyhealth Great North Run in support of mental health research.

Students and staff have teamed up to fundraise for MQ, a charity focused on the scientific research behind mental health care.

The society were inspired to highlight the science behind mental health, as care and support services often take priority in funding.

Co-president, Melissa Burnett, said: “As well as raising money for them, hopefully it’s an opportunity to get their name out there, as they are still a small charity with big ambitions.”

John Alexander-Finch, fundraiser at MQ, has shown his gratitude to the team for shining a spotlight on the charity, saying: “I was lucky enough to be able to take a trip up to see them, to thank them personally for their support and to share a little about what we do.

“They’re fantastic people and we’re so thrilled to have them behind us.”

The half marathon provides the charity with a chance to discuss how running might impact mental wellbeing, an important subject that MQ have started researching.

John said: “It’s something that we hope, in time, to be able to explore in more detail to find the nuances, as right now we simply don’t know enough about this effect.

“The reality is that mental health is an intensely personal thing (as with physical) so finding something that works for you is really important, and for many, exercise seems to help.”

The MQ team will be joining thousands of other runners at the Simplyhealth Great North Run on Sunday 10 September.

The runners’ motivation to support MQ is not just academic; the society’s other President, Isabel Bryant, spoke about her personal experiences with mental health.

She said: “We’re always learning the facts and figures about mental health and, for a long time, these were just numbers to me.

“However, it became clear to me the damage mental illness can do when my best friend and flat mate was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and anorexia.

“Having to watch her struggle with basic day-to-day life, like getting dressed or leaving the house, was heartbreaking and made me feel so helpless.

“I knew that, regardless of what I did and said, she felt like she was alone.

“It’s so important to me to support research into mental health; it would be incredible if there was a way to stop illnesses like my best friend’s at the root of the issue rather than just providing coping mechanisms.

Training for the half marathon has allowed Isabel, Melissa and their ten-person team to open up about how mental illness has affected their own lives and shown them they’re not alone in their experiences.

Isabel said: “The Great North Run has brought together lecturers and students who didn’t necessarily know each other before we started running together.

“It proves just how many people have been affected by mental illness, whether that’s directly or indirectly.

“I can’t wait to cross the finish line with my team, knowing all our efforts are going towards a good cause.”

Support Isabel and Melissa’s individual fundraising pages for MQ: Transforming Mental Health. 

For more information about the Simplyhealth Great North Run, visit our website.