A RECORD number of people took part in the third annual round Spiggie fun run on Sunday in a bid to banish the stigma of mental illness.
Around 440 runners and walkers of all abilities made their way round the loch to raise money for the charity Mind Your Head, set up to raise awareness of mental health.
Participants could choose whether to complete five or 10km in an event that was definitely not a race, but was about personal achievement.
Mind Your Head chairwoman Shona Manson said the event, which took place in glorious weather, was “brilliant”. She said: “The whole buzz was really positive. There were nearly a hundred more than last year taking part and it exceeded all expectations.”
Folk of all ages – from a baby in a sling to a woman of nearly 80 – attempted to complete their chosen distance in their personal best time. As well as trying to raise as much money as possible, the event had the additional aim of promoting exercise as an antidote to depression.
Ms Manson said: “Running and walking can alleviate low mood, especially in relation to mild to moderate depression. The whole event was part of what we do to raise the profile of mental health, and what people can do to help themselves and the benefits of exercise.
“We can all help to reduce the stigma of mental health by being more open about it.”
Participant Stuart Fox described the event as “an excellent day out for the family in aid of a great cause”. “It was good to see all ages there and the numbers were up on last year. I can only see it getting bigger. Mind Your Head do a really good job promoting mental health.”
The money raised by Mind Your Head, which is very much Shetland-based, is being used to part-fund a self-help practitioner to help people with mild to moderate depression who probably do not need medication. Additional funding will come from the NHS. The post, which it is hoped will be filled by the end of the year, will be a two-year appointment and if it is deemed valuable the charity will seek on-going funding. The practitioner will also create a library to help other professionals in training in mental health issues.
Some of the money raised by Mind Your Head will also be used to target young people and work with schools. In the end, said Ms Manson, it is about creating a “greater understanding of what we can do to help ourselves”.
So far £4,800 has been raised from sponsorship and more is coming in. The charity would like to thank LBC for its sponsorship and a forthcoming promotion – anyone wearing a fun run T-shirt will get a 10 per cent discount in the shop.
Mind Your Head also worked with Shetland Recreational Trust to encourage people to take part – if people signed up early for the fun run they got discount on certain activities. Ms Manson said: “We were trying to reach the people who need it most.”
• Attendance and times are on the website mindyourhead.org.uk