A drizzly morning at Ifield Mill Pond parkrun had a field of 96 park runners of which 28 were first timers this morning and a very well done to the 26 runners achieved a PB. It was also lovely to welcome our visitors to our Park run this morning from South Africa, Surrey, Eastbourne, and Brighton to name a few. Our NHS staff from local NHS Sussex Partnership NHS FT, who provide mental health services across Sussex were in Yellow tee-shirts and came along to shine the light on mental health, and share important information around suicide prevention. Did you know 1:4 people in general population experience mental health needs. Karen asked you all to SAY HELLO to each other a simple act of human connection which is the start of getting to know someone and reminded us about the importance of the humble act of saying hello can make such a difference to someone’s day. We are so often go through our busy weeks seeing faces that we recognise that cross our paths in our life but don’t necessary know the person whether it be on our commute to work or at park run each week. It is inspiring to see how this global community enjoy sharing Saturday morning at a parkrun community no matter where you are in the county, country or globally. What a better way to up lift ones mood by participating in park run, it really does have so many health benefits keeping our self mentally and physically healthy. In fact I spoke to a fellow park runner as we embraced the course and talked about how exercise releases natural body chemicals to make us feel good. I know you may not feel it at the time as you feel breathless but doesn’t it feel good when you finish. Park run community is inclusive of everyone. What a great place to share this health message, raise awareness around mental health which is as important as our physical health and stamp out stigma. Tell your friends, family & work mates it is free and a fantastic social community to connect with and let our Ifield Mill Pond Park run grow. The Parkrun community is all about personal goals whether you walk jog run or volunteer there is something for everyone and you all will have your reasons for participating. Hats off to George Jones, he was first over the line in 20:58 mins and our first lady Alissa Walker ran in 23:09 this morning. We come to park run for many reasons. It may be about chasing that PB or maintaining it, however it is not all about who can get over the finish line in the fastest time as it is relative to our goal and parkrun’s philosophy is to help the community support their health and wellbeing. Sussex Partnership through their SAFE campaign (Suicide Awareness is For Everyone), aim is to raise awareness and put a human face on this important subject; break the taboo on talking about mental health issues through opening up a conversation and encouraging people to talk. We all CAN potentially save lives. People that are affected by mental health issues are just like you and I, our neighbour, brother, sister, work colleague, shop assistant and so on. Suicide is a very sensitive subject and like no other bereavement and has a huge impact on families. Did you know that currently it is the biggest killer in young men under 50 throughout the UK and you may be able to change this statistic. It was helpful to have our NHS staff to share knowledge of what to do if you are concerned about someone’s mental health. So through connecting with our Park Run community sharing the SAFE message we hope this will help save lives. Please look at the suicide prevention training video via the link www.zerosuicidealliance.com. Let’s as a community share and use the details we heard today with friend’s family and work colleagues. They information may also help you. A lot of us know how to do CPR; so let’s know how to support someone at risk of suicide. This maybe the first step you can take to help yourself, or someone else in need so collectively we can help our community stay SAFE. A special thanks to those that shared their personal stories today as it absolutely demonstrates that this is a real live issue for many of our local community. A simple pledge of looking at the 20 min video may help to signpost someone feeling distressed to seek support. Mental Health can have a big impact on families not just on the person experiencing an illness but their loved ones too. Some shared how parkrun helps with their stresses and to cope with the challenges of caring for loved ones and thanked our visitors in yellow tee-shirts for supporting this very important agenda and helping to stamp out stigma. This is all about connecting with the person whether you are running or volunteering let’s continue to ensure our parkrun encourages all our diverse community to join in. We will always welcome first timers and ensure it is accessible for all people with disabilities or long term health conditions. Chrissie Wellington, Global Head of Health and Wellbeing at parkrun, said to Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust:
“Whether you want to walk, run, volunteer or simply come down and watch, parkrun events give people the opportunity to be active, in the open air and feel part of a welcoming, non-judgemental community. Time and time again we hear stories of how parkrun has helped people from all walks of life cope with mental health issues, and we are pleased to team up with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to raise awareness of mental health issues and suicide, and the resources that are available within the community.” The Yellow tee-shirts carried the message Say Hello See it Say it and Sign post so a very special thank you running community for collectively helping our community stay SAFE and keep on running.
A final message from run director today reminded us of Crawley buses will give you a free ride if you show your park code how great is that for our environment and opportunity for parkrun touring. Also, a big thank you for our wonderful volunteers this morning, what a great idea to have wellies on. Without them park run will not happen and it was amazing to have their commitment despite the weather. Carrying out the volunteer tasks help make our park run possible so please consider if you can to sign up one week to help volunteer.