AWARE urges people to ‘walk their way to a better mood.’
Monday 8 May marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017. Ahead of their annual Mood Walk events, AWARE - the national depression charity for Northern Ireland, is urging people to get out doors and enjoy some light exercise to help improve their overall mental health and wellbeing.
Exercise is said to have a positive effect on a person’s mental wellbeing and helps reduce the risk of depression, stress and anxiety. When we exercise, the brain releases a hormone called ‘endorphins’ also known as ‘the happy hormone’ which is known to lift your mood and make you feel good.
The AWARE Mood Walk is coming up in Belfast on Friday 16 June starting from the Mary Peters Track. The walk is a 5k or 10k walk designed to lift your mood. Taking in a range of beautiful sights around Barnett Demesne, Lagan Towpath and Queen’s University Playing fields, the walk will be led by trained fitness instructor, Gary Milligan who will keep the pace at a manageable level for all participants.
Taking part in the AWARE Mood Walk will be two young ladies from South Belfast who have both suffered from the illness of depression. Emma Norris and Cliona McCarney are both in their early twenties and have experienced what they describe as a ‘debilitating illness.’ The AWARE Mood Walk is giving them an opportunity to come together with friends and family for a fun and positive event to celebrate how far they have come in overcoming their depression.
Emma Norris from South Belfast suffered from depression and had to leave school for six weeks during her A Level exams to help aide her recovery. Last year, Emma completed the AWARE Mood Walk with 40 of her friends and family and is looking forward to doing it again this year with more and more people.
“The AWARE Mood Walk is such an important event for me. Last year, 40 of my friends and family joined me on the Mood Walk to celebrate my 18th birthday. This was so important considering everything I had been through trying to study and complete my A Level exams and deal with the devastating impact of depression.
“I hope to get even more people supporting #TeamEmma this year. Becoming involved in the Mood Walk sends out a clear message to people that depression is an illness that you can recover from – just like I did! The Mood Walk gives people the opportunity to show their support for people with depression across Northern Ireland.”
Cliona McCarney suffered from depression and knows only too well how important light exercise was during her recovery from depression. Cliona is looking forward to participating in AWARE’s Mood Walk. Cliona said,
“When I had depression, I felt like I was watching myself from a distance and felt disgusted at this lazy, unmotivated disgrace that I felt I’d become.
“Two and a half years later - I’m me. I’m Cliona. I’m not perfect. I don’t always like myself and sometimes I get bad days, sometimes they turn into bad weeks and I start to panic, but I know that it will pass. Depression isn’t a cop out response to a bad day. It’s an illness that can be debilitating and life destroying.
“Exercise was usually the last thing on my mind, but I knew how important it was to get out into the fresh air and go for a walk. I am looking forward to the Belfast AWARE Mood Walk on Friday 16 June. It is an important event and one which I will be taking part in with friends, family and the people that were with me during my darkest days.”
The Belfast AWARE Mood Walk will see Belfast singer-songwriter Kaz Hawkins perform for the crowd and BBC Radio presenter Vinny Hurrell will help to compere the event and get the crowd energised before the Mood Walk. If you would like to register for the walk, click here or call 028 90357820.