Real lives: I’m running 1,000 miles to beat mental health stigma


Jim McClung and his daughter Margaret with their medals from this year's Edinburgh Marathon festival 

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31st May 2017 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

My name is Jim McClung, I am 49 years of age and a father of three and a grandad of 2. I work for a manufacturing company as a machine operator.

I turn 50 years of age this year and decided to take on a challenge to run 1,000 miles between 1 January and 22 December, my birthday, for See Me Scotland, which works in partnership with SAMH to fight the stigma of mental health.

I want to raise awareness for people with the stigma and discrimination attached to mental health problems as it has affected my eldest daughter who I just met two years ago after not seeing each other for 27 years. After getting to know her I realised she was struggling, physically and mentally.

You don’t have to understand what’s happening to someone, you just have to listen and support them through what is a very distressing time for them

Margaret is a very clever girl but she has had a lot of problems through her life which she didn’t have coping mechanisms for. I think us not seeing each other for so long contributed to that.

She wasn’t encouraged to speak about how she was feeling or to get help.

So I told her she could speak to me. From there we got her to her GP. She was experiencing a few things, but was struggling mainly with her eating.

The biggest challenge will be completing the 1,000 miles as my knee is not in the best shape because I have to run most days. I ran the London marathon two years running in 2010 and 2011 and I use that as my benchmark. This year I have been running for 110 days and covered 455 miles to date. I have done half marathons in Wigan, Sheffield, Coatbridge and recently Edinburgh, where Margaret joined me to do the 10k herself.

What will make it worthwhile is getting people to think differently about mental health. People’s attitudes to mental health need to change. We all have mental health; it doesn’t make you a bad person to admit you are struggling. People who struggle with their own mental health can’t just take a tablet or get an operation to make it better. When I injured my knee running last month two sessions of physio helped me get back out, but if you suffer from poor mental health, it isn’t so simple.

There was a time in my life when I struggled with mental health and running gave me a structure and made me feel better.

By raising awareness, I hope to reduce the stigma attached to mental health. It meant the world to me to meet Margaret after all those years, but I think the separation affected us both through the years. It is heart-breaking to watch someone battle to get better, because people don’t want to speak about how they are feeling because they are worried about how others will react.

People in my situation and with the lack of experience I had should knww you don’t have to understand what’s happening to someone, you just have to listen and support them through what is a very distressing time for them. We all have mental health so we all should be able to speak about it and support each other; any of us could make a difference to someone’s life by telling them it is ok not to be ok and it's ok to ask for help.

I have a JustGiving fundraising page and you can follow my progress on Facebook on the See Me 1000 Mile Challenge page.

I have seen firsthand the impact that mental health stigma can have on someone’s life, people need to know that it is ok to speak out and talk about how they feel. Everyone should be allowed to live fulfilled lives without stigma or discrimination, so any donations would be greatly appreciated.