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Under England Athletics’ #RunAndTalk Programme a volunteer network of Mental Health Champions has been established among running clubs all over the country. It aims to inspire people who are experiencing mental health problems to start running, to motivate ex-runners to get back into running and to support those running to continue

The Wimbledon Windmilers is more than a running club. It is a community in which we support and care for each other. We want to make sure that no-one in our community has to face a mental health problem alone. We want to help our runners find the courage to share their experiences and realise the healing power of speaking up. If people are able to open up about their mental health, they will find that there are many Windmilers who will be there to support them and they will discover others around them who are going through something similar.

Our aim is to create an atmosphere of openness, awareness and acceptance in order to be able to address mental health in the same way physical health is addressed. This includes a commitment to confidentiality and discretion being fully respected.

Wimbledon Windmilers Run and Talk Programme

Running is an excellent way to tackle stress, relieve pressures of life and alleviate poor moods, while at the same time improving our physical fitness. It is also an excellent excuse to get out and about in Wimbledon’s lovely green spaces with a friendly group of fellow runners.

Run and Talk sessions are gently paced and around 4 miles (with shorter options for those who prefer). Our aim is to have a good time together, getting to know each other better, chatting and catching up.

The Windmilers Run and Talk sessions are organised by our small team of Mental Health Champions, who are members of the club.

Most people will experience a mental health episode at some time in their life or have someone close to them who does and the Windmilers, as part of the England Athletics’ #RunAndTalk Programme, is here to offer support. Regular exercise combined with talking about mental health issues has been recognised as a great way of improving mental health as well as breaking down stigma around discussing these issues.

The club’s mental health champions

Claire Boynton

James Leask

Susie O’Connor

Carl Rautenbach

Other mental health support

it is always good to talk about mental health, but we recognise that talking about your struggles to a friendly empathising, fellow runner may not always be enough. So, it’s important to know where to go for professional advice, assistance and support. Your doctor is always a good place to start, but if, for any reason, you are not comfortable approaching your GP or other NHS services, here are some other options for obtaining professional support:

Samaritans offer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, confidential, free helplines, where you may talk anytime you like, in your own way. They are there to listen to anything that is upsetting you, worries and troubles, including intrusive thoughts and even more troubling thoughts of suicide and self-harm. They are also able to offer contact details for organisations that specialise in helping you with the particular problem you may have.

  Helpline: 116 123

  E-mail: [email protected]

Mind is a mental health charity which supports EA’s RunAndTalk programme. It provides support and advice to anyone experiencing a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is. Mind can help with access to information about a condition, treatment options and other practical issues. They are able to offer a wide range of support including a confidential information line, free information-resources and further help through a national network. Mind info line: 0300 123 3393, with lines being open 9 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday, except on Bank Holidays. E-Mail: [email protected]