Staff at Gateshead College kickstarted Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 by stepping up their own activity and taking part in a 20-mile walking challenge, to mark the importance of mental health and self-care.

The Ultimate Walk and Talk challenge consisted of a 20-mile walk, the distance between the college’s campuses and was organised to promote the benefits of physical activity and talking on a person’s mental health.

A total of 26 people from across the college took part and encouraged one another to complete the walk. Some people opted to complete a shorter eight-mile walk.

Steven White, an IT Technician at Gateshead College, who organised the event, said:

“Mental health is really important to us; and awareness around it is something we are always keen to promote.

“For Mental Health Awareness Week, we chose to highlight the positive impact physical exercise and being outdoors as part of a team talking and working together has on mental wellbeing. It was also an opportunity for us to raise funds for The Sally Allan Fund, a mental health charity very close to the college’s heart.”

Sally Allan, a Gateshead College retiree, took her own life on Boxing Day in 2015 after masking her mental health challenges from those around her. The charity, "The Sally Allan Fund" set up in her name, has developed a programme with Tyneside and Northumberland Mind to educate people on how they can take better care of themselves, spot the warning signs of mental illness and also learn how lifestyle changes can improve mental wellbeing.

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Steven added: “Huge thanks to those who took part. It really wasn’t a mean feat and there were some very tired legs by the end of the day - 950,000 steps were completed between us! We walked for nine hours with very short breaks, so those who completed it should feel very proud of themselves and the role they played in raising awareness of the importance of self-care.”

The 20-mile walk started at the Baltic Campus on Quarryfield Road, headed through Bensham to Team Valley before tackling the bank up to Springwell Village. The walkers then went via Usworth to the college’s two campuses next to Nissan before heading back along the Felling Bypass to the Academy for Sport and finished at Baltic Campus.

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