As we marked the annual World Mental Health Day on Wednesday, 10 October, we took the time here at parkrun Australia headquarters to reflect on our own experiences and how we may have helped someone, anyone, through bringing awareness to the issue.
Last year our very own CEO, Tim Oberg, shared his personal experiences with anxiety and in the lead up to World Mental Health Day, shared it again recently, once again receiving an overwhelming response.
Tim’s story, ‘parkrun, anxiety and me’, has made history as the most visited blog on the parkrun Australia page, totalling so far 18,000 visits and 12,000 click-throughs from the weekly newsletter.
“My blog is now the most clicked post ever for parkrun Australia. The story has resonated with so many and the response has been really powerful” he said. “We have had thousands of comments on the blog and on our facebook page, as well many people messaging me directly, sharing their own stories.
“The experience has been incredibly validating. I had hoped to help people; I recognise that I have this unique platform from which to be heard and to share my story and that has the power to reach many.”
“People have connected with my story and that has opened an important dialogue. Both strangers and close friends have shared their mental health battles with me, and important people in their lives, with many people saying they have never spoken about this before.”
Mental Health Australia states that 1 in 5 Australians are affected by mental illness, it’s therefore no surprise Tim’s story of anxiety has touched so many.
Research strongly supports the link between physical activity and good mental health and Tim concurs, crediting parkrun as an integral element of this mental health journey. “I think the reason parkrun is so effective in contributing to positive mental health is twofold; it’s that hormonal release from exercise and it’s also the support and encouragement that comes from the parkrun community,” he said.
“It’s well known that the physical act of exercising releases endorphins that make you feel good. We also know that social interaction with others underpins our wellbeing. parkrun is a place where people can achieve that feel good factor – exercise endorphins and a positive, inclusive and supportive community of like-minded friends.”
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