10 mountains, that’s right… 10! The number of peaks that myself and 11 colleagues will be climbing next weekend in order to raise money for Mind Charity. To be honest, I could have done a little more training (actually, any training at all would have been useful) but here we are, with 11 days to go and thought of 27km is starting to loom over me.

It’s not that I’m unfit - I go to the gym (occasionally) partake in the odd yoga class (once in a while) and enjoy a lengthy Sunday stroll (to the pub) but 2 months ago, I found myself agreeing to hike 27km, over 13 hours to heights of 2500 meters all in aid to raise money for a worthwhile cause.  

Once I signed my life away it was time to decide what charity Salt was going to donate to. Selfishly, I spent the next few days thinking about what issues were relevant to me, I knew this walk would be tough and knowing the money raised was going somewhere that I could relate to would make it all that easier. We had tonnes of ideas as a group, and numerous amazing charities that we could have chosen, but after a lengthy discussion it was apparent we had all simultaneously had to deal with issues surrounding something that is often not spoken about – Our mental health.

I can’t remember the first time I felt anxious, it’s something that’s been with me for as long as I can remember. The feeling of constant worry and an overwhelming sense that ‘something isn’t right’ has littered my brain since my early teens. When you have a cold, or a broken arm people around you can see, they’ll often sympathise and understand that you might not be feeling your ‘usual self’, but when the problem is internal, and the battle is with your mind every day, it’s something that isn’t often recognised.

Over the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand my depression and anxiety, figuring out why I feel the way I do, and what I can do to help and overcome the often-difficult times. Living as a ‘twenty-something’ in today's society, we are constantly bombarded with external pressures that can often contribute to how we feel, whether it's striving after a better job, better body, or better boyfriend it can leave us feeling ‘not quite good enough’. What I’ve learned from the hundreds (maybe thousands) of self-help books, speaking to a therapist and spending time looking after both my body and mind is that more people feel like this than we think. I’m not alone in my worries or concerns and in fact the more we speak and support each other, the more we will realise we’re all in this together.

This week is Mental Health Awareness week, so there is no better time to take a step back and reflect on the issue, here are some of the facts:

  • 1 in 10 children have a diagnosable mental health disorder – that’s roughly 3 children in every classroom 
  • 1 in 4 of us will experience some kind of mental health disorder every single year.
  • 1 in 5 young adults have a diagnosable mental health disorder 
  • Half of all mental health problems manifest by the age of 14, with 75% by age 24 
  • Almost 1 in 4 children and young people show some evidence of mental ill health (including anxiety and depression) 
  • Suicide is the most common cause of death for boys aged between 5-19 years, and the second most common for girls of this age 
  • 1 in 12 young people self-harms at some point in their lives, though there is evidence that this could be a lot higher. Girls are more likely to self-harm than boys.

I’m not sure exactly how long it will take me to complete the ’10 peaks challenge’ whether it's within the guideline time of 13 hours… or double that! But what I do know is that no matter how hard it is, or how long it takes I’ll finish it with a smile (ok, maybe not a smile) because after all its Mind over matter 

Please donate to this amazing cause, and let’s make some changes together!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/emma-lowman