A big-hearted councillor has been inspired to take on his first 10k run to raise awareness of mental health issues after discovering that more than 100 people in Denbighshire have committed suicide since 2008.
Cllr Mark Young, 52, who represents Lower Denbigh on Denbighshire County Council, will be rising to the challenge on World Mental Health Day on Thursday, October 10.
The aim of the day is to highlight the tragic fact that somewhere in the world somebody dies from suicide every 40 seconds.
So, Cllr Young is encouraging people to take 40 seconds to speak to someone about their mental health if they are feeling down, or to make an effort to chat with people they think might be struggling.
He is also urging people to take up physical exercise as a way of keeping both mind and body healthy.
According to Cllr Young, the issue was brought home to him when his father, Colin, was seriously ill and he was finding it to be a really difficult time
To the surprise of family and friends, he took up running under the direction of trainer, Peter Barraclough from BACE Fitness, and found it was a big help in dealing with the stresses and emotion
As a result, he’s feeling miles better and is in the final stages of his preparation for the run which will start outside the offices of the mental health charity, Vale of Clwyd MIND, in Vale Street Denbigh.
Cllr Young said: “After Christmas last year I was feeling quite unhealthy and stressed. My father was very poorly, and has now passed away, and I thought that I needed to sort myself out and needed to clear my head so I started running.
“I hadn’t run more than I mile I would say for over 20 years. So, I started running and since then I’ve added a kilometre every month.
“It’s really improved my general health and has definitely helped my overall mental and physical wellbeing.
“I feel a great deal better and I can cope with the day-to-day challenges in my busy life.
“If I can do it anyone can. My style is more of a waddle than a run and I’m definitely not going to break any Olympic records but it’s done me the world of good.
“I’d encourage anyone to get out and do some running or walking. It’s definitely good for you.”
“I’d like to thank everyone who has shouted words of encouragement as I run through the town. I know it has been a shock for some people and I am loving my new nickname of Mo as in Farah.
He added: “We’re going to start outside the Vale of Clwyd MIND office and their chair, Clwyd Wynne, who is an ex senior nurse at North Wales Hospital, will be starting me off, hopefully with words of encouragement.
“World Mental Health day this year is concentrating on suicide prevention. The theme of it is to raise awareness. We lose someone every 40 seconds internationally.
“We’ve lost over a 100 people since 2008 in Denbighshire to suicide. So, it’s about taking 40 seconds out on world Mental Health day if you have any issues or concerns to share it with someone or, if you think someone could do with it, chat to them or talk about mental health.
“It can affect people from all parts of society, even someone who is successful and wealthy like Gary Speed”
Clwyd Wynne said: “Mark is setting an example to people that exercise is important. I obviously helped him and it’s doing him a lot of good, physically and mentally.
“He’s doing it to highlight the very serious issue of suicide amongst especially younger men, but obviously it’s a problem that can affect anyone.
We have had some incidences in the town in the last few years, which is very sad and I think it’s important that we recognise that this is a problem and that we need to actively do something about it.
“I’ve worked in mental health all my life and the problem seems to be growing.
“I know that’s an old saying but it it’s always good to talk, and we run some educational programmes at Vale of Clwyd MIND on mental health first aid.
“The idea of the programmes is that you learn to spot the signs of people being low in mood or even depressed and how to deal with that.
“If you intervene you can stop someone from spiralling lower and lower and potentially save someone’s life.”