Going the extra mile for mental health

Posted: November 15, 2021

A trainee teacher from Leeds City College has raised £1,460 for mental health charities by completing the London Marathon – without any preparation.

Ryan McNamee, who teaches sports and life skills to alternative provision students at the college’s Mabgate Campus, crossed the finishing line at the race in about seven hours, and with one leg out of action.

Ryan has his own struggles with depression and wanted to take on the 26.2 mile challenge on Sunday, 3 October to shine a light on mental health – particularly men’s mental health – and the help that is available.

Although he had planned to train for the marathon, and accepts that would have been the wiser course of action, things didn’t work out that way.

For anyone who is struggling

He said: “I ended up not doing any training for it because I wanted to put myself through a challenge and a struggle and dedicate it to everyone who is struggling, every day, with their mental health.

“And to be honest, I also struggled sometimes to find the motivation to train, as I struggle with my own mental health.

“I finished in just over seven hours and it was tough, my right leg basically gave way around the 20 mile mark, but with the help of other runners and the support of the spectators I managed to keep going.”

Speak out and seek help

“I’d set out with a fundraising target of £1,000 so I’m glad to have surpassed that, with £1,110 going to Leeds Mind and £210 to Andy’s Man Club.

“But the run wasn’t just about fundraising. I also wanted to send out a message, especially to fellow members of staff at Leeds City College, to not bottle up your emotions because that makes it worse.

“If you’re not feeling well, mentally, it’s important to speak up about it and then you can get the right support.

“I wanted to show, too, that when you put your mind to it, you can achieve things even if there are barriers in the way.

“I would urge people to check in on others and ask how they’re doing, to make sure they’re ok.”

Anything is possible

Ryan also hopes his example will inspire the students he works with.

He added: “I work with many young people who have faced individual challenges and it is nice to be able to be a bit of a role model for them, just by showing them that anything’s possible.”

Ryan, who has a degree in sport science, previously completed the London Marathon in 2017, raising £2,500 for homeless charity Crisis.

He says that talking openly about his issues and being of service to others, including through teaching, has really helped him manage his depression.

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