Man Undertakes Challenges For Raising Funds For Mental Health Charity He Created
After experiencing hardships with his mental health, Alex Staniforth, from Kendal, co-founded Mind Over Mountains. This 25-year-old lad has also been coping with eating disorder bulimia since 2012.
According to Alex, mental illness is probably the biggest challenge he has ever faced. He has suffered from bulimia, an eating disorder, and several bouts of anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.
He said that being a male athlete he was supposed to be mentally tough and it was extremely disheartening to talk about his eating disorder. Eventually, when he could seek help, it took him longer to access therapy than it did to walk, cycle and run 5000 miles around the UK in 2017.
Alex told, “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. We now have a small core team of people passionate about the power of the outdoors for mental well-being”.
He explained that ‘Mind Over Mountains’ is for everyone who needs help – from those who need a break and feel ‘a bit stressed’ to those who have serious long-term medical conditions like bipolar disorder, PTSD, and schizophrenia.
Alex told that their groups are intentionally meant to be small in size in order to create a private and confidential space for people. They have already delivered four programs for over 50 people who sought their help and have provided a ‘Mental Health First Aid Course’ at a discounted rate.
An extraordinary test was chosen by Alex in order to raise money for this charity where he had to put himself through a reality check of mental and physical endurance and had to complete his ‘incredible feat’ till September 10 – Suicide Prevention Day.
Alex explained, “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”.
He has covered seventeen marathons in total and almost 50 miles per day.
Aiming to break the current record and raise £10,000 for charity, he ran all the way from Scotland and some blocks of the UK too.
On the final day, he had been running since 3:30 am but because of being sleep deprived, he sadly missed the record by over an hour. Since he had Storm Francis on the way and had also sprained his ankle a few weeks before the challenge started, so he is quite pleased with his performance. And, Alex did manage to smash his £10,000 target!
Alex believes that nature is the best healer and thus, Mind Over Mountains provides guided walks in the Mountains of the UK which helps people restore their mental and physical health. A fair amount of financial help is given to people who are suffering from difficulties like bereavement or illness, unemployment, etc.
Even in this COVID-19 pandemic, Alex and his charity made sure that the front line workers got all the funding they needed, and also provided virtual coaching to people who needed it the most during this difficult time.
Alex believes that despite being a small group, they still make a big difference!