• More than 8 in ten (83%) people have experienced early signs of poor mental health including feeling anxious, stressed, having low mood or trouble sleeping in the last 12 months (Public Health England 2019).
  • January can be a particularly difficult time as the days get shorter and more people are prone to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). 
  • Dorset Mind runs an annual campaign to support the county in getting active this January for better mental health and wellbeing. 
  • Anyone can be affected by low mood, stress or anxiety and in turn can be susceptible to poor mental health. Dorset Mind wants to bring the community together this January to collectively promote wellbeing through getting together and getting active. 

With longer nights and shorter days, winter can have a profound impact on our mental health, particularly after the festive periodChristmas time can be highly sociable for many, but for others it can increase feelings of anxiety and isolation. It’s known that the Samaritans support more people around Christmas and New Year than any other time.

That’s why Dorset Mind will be running their annual RED January campaign to help the Dorset community to do something active every day in January to beat the blues away. Whether it’s taking the dog for a walk, taking the stairs or running a 5k. Dorset Mind will be helping the community to set their own challenges, and will support them every step of the way.

Last year, 75% of everyone who took part in RED January said that their wellbeing had improved and 88% would recommend taking part to someone they know.

RED January has a great sense of team spirit behind it which helps to counteract loneliness and isolation, whilst giving people a much-needed boost when getting outdoors and getting active which can be even more challenging in the colder months. The staff and volunteers also get involved and feel the benefits of kick-starting their year in a positive way. The team host walks across the county including at Hengistbury Head, Weymouth seafront and at RSB Arne. 

Marianne Storey, CEO of Dorset Mind said: 

“Every year I join our staff and volunteer teams to take part in RED January. It’s a wonderful opportunity to come together as a community and support each other in being more mentally healthy. Boosting both our own mental wellbeing and that of others too, is a great way to start the year off on a positive note! There’s a palpable sense of camaraderie to taking part and a huge sense of achievement at the end when you can see the results both physically and mentally.

The support from everyone in the online community and at the events we host helps to get you through it, knowing that everyone is with you every step of the way.It’s important that we all look after each other at this time of year and encourage each other to speak up and not be afraid to say if we might be struggling.

The month-long event is a great way to raise our profile as a charity and draw attention to the support we can offer to people in need. Those that fundraise as part of the challenge, directly support us in helping people with mental health problems in Dorset.”

To take part in RED January and support Dorset Mind visit https://dorsetmind.redjanuaryformind.co.uk/

Andy’s story:  

Andy is an Operational Efficiency Manager from Bournemouth. He is 32 years old and he blogs about mental health and physical activity.   

Last year, when stress and anxiety turned into seizures and panic attacks, Andy was admitted to hospital on several occasions. He had previously self-admitted himself to a mental health facility after reaching crisis point.

“I had fallen down in to such a dark hole, so quickly and I just couldn’t see the way out of it.”

Andy has spoken out on how staying active has become a vital tool for him in helping to manage symptoms and support his mental health and wellbeing.  Andy took part in Red January for Dorset Mind at the beginning of 2019, sharing that, “everyone has their own personal battles, we are all different – but trust me from experience, that exercise really does make all the difference and you will meet some incredible and inspiring people on your journey in the Dorset Mind Team.”

By blogging about his day to day health and fitness journey, Andy has been able to share what he has learnt along the way, in the hope that others he can help others to find their own paths to wellbeing. 

“This time last year I was in a very different place to I where I am today. Today I’m feeling fit, healthy, have a good job, amazing family and friends and am so optimistic for the future. Next year I am hoping to run both a marathon and compete in an Olympic distance triathlon.”

Andy also blogs about how he was diagnosed with non- epileptic attack disorder (NEAD) which was triggered by an acute stress reaction.  “For someone that on the surface is a confident, self-assured, rational and logical thinker… this is terrifying, embarrassing, confusing and very difficult to talk about.” 

Seeking a diagnosis was a lengthy ordeal, and Andy spent a lot of time seeking help in various ways whilst conducting extensive research himself into how he could manage the diagnosis and prevent attacks in the future.  It is estimated that around 15,000 people in the UK have NEAD, and that nearly 1 in 6 people stop having NEAD after the diagnosis has been explained. 

“I have written quite a bit about this condition on my personal blog, but honestly what has kept me going and motivated was sport, exercise – and in particular running and swimming. The process I was then making physically mirrored my progress mentally. “

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