Meet our Great North Runners We're counting down to the Great North Run on Sunday 9 September and this year we are proud to have four people running for our charity. Rebecca, Amy, Andy and Claire will run 13.1 miles to raise funds for Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind while raising awareness of mental health in the community. We caught up with the four participants and asked what it means to have a place in the Great North Run and why they decided to fundraise for our organisation. Rebecca “I wanted to raise money for a local charity that does wonderful thing's in the local area regarding mental health. After suffering from anxiety and panic attacks myself, Mind is an invaluable resource for information and guidance and I really want to help break the stigma about talking about mental health. “The great north run is such a wonderful north east event and a big challenge. I have completed the great north run before and the people of the north east are so incredibly supportive, you just feel amazing being part of something so special. “I know that from personal experience running and exercise has been my go to tool for helping my own anxiety. I really do think that exercise can really help someone battling mental health issues. Not only does it make you feel good but for me it gives me that space in my head that I really need sometimes and helps me to alleviate stress”. Andy “Mind has helped a couple of members of my family through very difficult time and this is one way to say thanks. I started running in September last year just to give it a go and I felt I could do more exercise than I thought I could at the time and it improved my health and fitness. “I did a 10 week programme to get you running 5k, then went up from there and now I’m determined to complete the Great North Run. The attitudes to mental health are changing but there’s still work to do in educating people”. Claire “The Great North Run has been a bucket list of mine since before I even started running. To be chosen in the ballot now that running is a true passion (and one of my coping methods for my depression) for me was an amazing feeling. To be able to run in aid of a charity that is very important to me makes it that much more important. "I take my volunteer role with Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind incredibly seriously. Mental health, whether good or bad, is part of everyone’s every day life and I am dedicated to ridding stigma and helping raise money for such a worthy organisation”. Amy “Mental Health is something that can be seen as a taboo subject, however it affects more and more people each year and I feel that no one should face a mental health problem alone. “The GNR has always been something of an ambition of mine but every year I’ve always found an excuse not to enter. Then last year I started running with Rebecca, getting up to 8/9 miles joining her on the GNR training runs. After I started hitting those distances I decided there was no reason not to enter. “I think there is a strong link between mental and physical health. I know that if I’m feeling down or out of sort a run or even walking my dogs will always lift my mood. I usually take part in R.E.D January in aid of Mind and the stories in the forum from people who suffer from depression or anxiety who have to fight every day to get out to run or walk during the challenge, is nothing short of inspirational".