I’ve been working as part of the Student Services team at Harper Adams University for just over four years. As part of my role, I speak with students on a daily basis and offer them information, advice, and guidance on a range of topics.
What I see is how all aspects of student life can affect a student’s mental health. We all have mental health, just like we all have physical health, and it’s so important to help students to take care of their own mental health and wellbeing so that they can thrive during their time at HAU and beyond.
I’ve been running for a few years now, and when the email came through asking for applications to run The Yorkshire Marathon to raise money for Student Minds, I jumped at the chance to apply (with the encouragement of colleagues who were on the same mailing list telling me I should sign up!)
Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity, and they support students to develop the knowledge, confidence, and skills to look after their own mental health, support their peers, and create change. One of the ways they do this is through a programme called ‘Look After Your Mate’, which I deliver here at HAU.
This helps students to recognise the signs of mental health difficulties, to be able to spot these in their friends (and themselves), and to know how to support their friends to get support while protecting their own mental health at the same time.
I have run this programme at least twice a year since I became a Look After Your Mate trainer; the feedback from students is always really positive, and we have seen the effects first hand.
I was originally given my marathon place in February 2020, with the plan to run the Yorkshire Marathon in October of the same year. Well, we all know what happened then!
So, it’s been a long 20 months building up to the new race date, with lockdowns and government restrictions impacting my training for over a year.
Then, when we finally got to run the marathon, the day started with rain – typical Yorkshire autumn weather! – but the atmosphere was good as runners gathered at the start line. We set off and headed down into the city of York, running past the Minster and through the city streets.
After a few miles the rain thankfully eased, and we were out in the countryside, passing through small villages where residents came out to cheer the runners on, including the infamous high-fiving vicar from Stockton-on-the-Forest! I completed the marathon in 4 hours and 46 minutes, which was quicker than I expected so I was very pleased.
It was also lovely to see messages of support and donations that had come through while I was running. It’s still not too late to donate – my fundraising page is still open at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ellen-deighton and all money raised goes to support Student Minds and student mental health.