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We may be a day late on this, but it’s never too late to spend a moment to raise awareness of mental health issues.  This year, the World Health Organisation has focussed on the scale of suicide and the role that each of us can play to help prevent it.  The WHO’s headline statistic is beyond shocking:

Every 40 seconds, someone loses their

life to suicide

The WHO asks us all to engage in “40 seconds of action” to raise awareness of the scale of suicide around the world.  They asked us for those 40 seconds on Thursday, 10 October, to start a conversation with someone we think may be struggling, but let’s make those 40 seconds a regular thing.  We never truly know how someone is feeling – and we certainly don’t know if we don’t ask.  According to the charity, Mind, 1 in 5 of us suffer depression or mental health illness every year in the UK.  Mental health problems and depression can be extremely isolating; people often feel shame and embarrassment and find it hard to ask for help or to share how they feel.  Let’s all make it easy.

When we last surveyed our membership on the benefits of coming to our gym, most of the comments were to do with the positive affect on their mental health – exercise makes you feel good because it releases endorphins and serotonin, chemicals that improve your mood.  These comments far outweighed those about delight at losing weight, increasing their muscle mass, going down a dress-size…  All of these benefits featured, as you might expect, but the positive impact on mood and mental health came top.  It just shows the importance of our mental health to our over-all sense of well-being.

Let’s keep the conversation going.  Let’s look around us and reach out to people who might need a kind word or some encouragement to get to the gym or socialise or seek professional help.  Let’s talk about depression and mental health in the same way as we talk about a physical ailment or injury.  Let’s all do our bit, not just for one day, but every day.