Focusing on Mental Health Awareness

As Headmaster Mr Inglis mentioned in this morning’s assembly, Elstree Mental Health Awareness Week starts today. 

Elstree’s Mental Health Awareness Week

Before half-term, Deputy Headmaster Mr Attwood encouraged pupils to come up with a plan for the week, following five simple themes to help support their mental health. These were talking/listening, acts of kindness, getting active, connecting with nature, and getting a good night’s sleep.

Mr Owens’ endurance fundraiser for Mental Health

Meanwhile, Senior Master and Head of English Mr Owens is in training for an endurance fundraiser for mental health charity Charlie Waller. Here, he tells us what has inspired him to run 7 marathons in 7 days and why he’s raising money for mental health.

Running 184 miles in one week

Mr Owens explains: “During lockdown, we’ve had time to reassess what we enjoy and what our priorities are.  I found running became an integral part of my daily routine in lockdown one. Having previously run a few marathons, to differing levels of success, I decided to set myself a new challenge. In the end, I thought running 7 marathons in 7 days would challenge me the most.”

Mr Owens is planning to begin his new endurance challenge week on Monday 22nd March. He starts in Kemble (south of Cirencester) at the source of the Thames and finishes at the Thames Barrier, London. In total, he will run 184 miles in one week.

Why raise funds for the Charlie Waller Trust?

“I chose to support the Charlie Waller Trust for two main reasons.  Firstly, Elstree has a close link with the charity. Secondly, the charity does fantastic work to promote mental health awareness in the wider community.”

He continues: “In recent years, we have all seen a rise in the conversation surrounding mental health.  However, I still think there is a stigma in young people talking about their genuine worries and admitting concerns. I hope the challenge will promote both the charity and the need to talk about everyone’s mental health, irrespective of appearances or perceptions. I often think about how as a society we spend eye-watering sums of money on our physical health, whilst having seemingly little concern for our mental health and well-being.”

A passion for endurance events

Mr Owens has always been passionate about endurance events. He takes a keen interest in the potential of the human body.

He says: “There is something raw and engaging about running: the lack of kit needed; the ability to appreciate the outdoor surroundings and the feeling of seeing what our normally comfortable bodies are able to endure.

My wife thinks it’s just an extreme excuse to be out of the house during the children’s supper time (we have two young children and number three is due in July)! But, with the current understandably gloomy climate surrounding many in the community, this felt like the right time to complete a challenge which supported a charity such as Charlie Waller. I hope to show my own children, as well as those I work with, that attitude will always triumph talent and, with the support of others, we can achieve things we thought not possible.”

There’s still time to donate to mental health charity Charlie Waller

To date, Mr Owens has managed to raise the spectacular amount of £3,212! Still early days, he would naturally love to raise more. Anyone donating £50 or over is automatically entered into a prize draw raffle.

Prizes so far include 4 nights in Barcelona, 2 nights in a ‘Boutique Bolthole’, a £50 voucher for the Royal Oak, and £40 for the West Berkshire Brewery. If you haven’t yet had a chance to donate to Mr Owens’ Just Giving page, don’t panic, there’s still time. You can do so by clicking here.

Huge gratitude to those who have donated so far

Overwhelmed by the support so far, Mr Owens adds: “I would like to thank everyone involved in the challenge, whether from the Trust or the Elstree community. Thank you too to Mr Welchman who has joined me for some ‘social distanced’ training. I have a sense of trepidation and fear surrounding the challenge, which is exactly why I chose it. Thank you to everyone who has donated or supported in any capacity and I hope to see you along the bank of the Thames in late March.”

That’s a date!