Curtis’ story

I’ve wanted to run a marathon for a long time. I’ve been a keen runner since I was a teenager, and have really enjoyed running in several half marathons previously. I’ll admit that I have some competitive tendencies, which have fueled the desire a bit – my wife ran the Belfast marathon back in 2019, something she still likes to hold over me as something she’s done and that I haven’t. My dad has also told me stories of his running days, and his ridiculously fast finishing times. Part of me would love to try and beat him! So, taking on a marathon of my own has always felt like a bit of a ‘when’, not an ‘if’.

This year, my wife and I took part in the Belfast marathon relay to raise money for Action Mental Health – a local charity here in Northern Ireland that’s offering really vital mental health services to people in my own community. I’ve had periods in my life when I’ve struggled with my own mental health. I’m incredibly grateful that during those times, I was able to access help through my GP, and was supported to find ways to cope and recover. But I know that there are so many people out there who are waiting for far too long for the support they really desperately need.

Running to raise funds and awareness for Action Mental Health felt like a brilliant opportunity for me to support a cause that matters to me, and to show others who might be struggling that there are people out there who care. The race day itself was a lot of fun; it was great to run as part of the team, and to be part of Belfast at its best. And I totally caught the running bug again – I came home and immediately began thinking about what running challenge I could take on next. And I decided that it was finally time to take on the full 26.2 miles!

I’m so pleased to be able to raise even more money and even greater awareness for Action Mental Health. They’re a brilliant charity, and they support people in such a wide variety of ways. They work with children and young people in schools to help them learn how to take care of their mental health from a young age. They offer personal development and skills training for people who are recovering from mental ill health. They have a therapeutic counselling service, as well as programmes to support people with chronic pain or illness, and programmes for carers. They offer workplace training so that employers can create healthier working environments for their staff… and that’s not even all of it. But people don’t necessarily know that this vital work is happening, and I think part of that is to do with the stigma that still surrounds mental illness. We’re getting better as a society at talking about it, but we still have a long way to go.

I really hope that by running the Dublin marathon for Action Mental Health, I can show my own community that mental health matters, and that support is out there and recovery is possible. And I do hope, even just a little bit, that I can beat my dad’s finishing time when I do it, too!   

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Step inside Action Mental Health and you'll find talented people working together to improve the lives of everyone living with mental health needs.

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