It is customary for people to use marathons as an event for raising awareness about many social issues. From women’s safety at workplace to environmental causes, there are lots of issues that participants try to bring to the surface by participating in these races.

Personally, the one issue that I want to raise is that of mental health. In spite of great attempts by various organisations and social bodies, mental health still remains a mystery and an enigma to most people.

Those who are unfortunate enough to suffer from mental disorders are still likely to face some level of discrimination. All this is born out of ignorance and lack of knowledge.

The more people become aware of what mental illnesses are and what they entail, the less likely they are to treat it as something abnormal and worthy of discriminating behavior.

1.    Marathons Dedicated To Mental Health

Already, many marathons and runs are taking place which are dedicated to mental healthLet’s look at some of the prominent ones.

– NAMIWalks

National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) is an organisation that seeks to create awareness about issues of mental health through the USA by organizing NAMIWalks. More than 80 communities of the country host this event and while registration is free, there is the opportunity for participants to donate money to the cause.

While this is not a marathon or a running event, it is worthy of being included in this list due to its wide presence.

– Mental Health Foundations Run Teams

This foundation forms teams to participate in lots of prominent running events and through them create awareness on these issues. These events include Edinburgh Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Scottish Half-Marathon etc. You can also join their team and lend support in raising these issues through these prominent events.

You don’t need to be an established runner. For beginners, the foundation provides help in the form of refreshments along the way. The foundation also participates in other types of physical activities.

– Outrun Anxiety 5K

The name of this marathon itself makes clear its intention. Anxiety has emerged as one of the most common mental ailments. Yet, lot of people still prefer not to reveal it and feel ashamed about it.

This particular 5K race is meant to help teenagers who often fall prey to this problem. Organized by an organisation called Anxiety in Teens which was started by a sufferer, this event takes place in Tucson, Arizona and is greatly supported by the community.

– Run for Women

While mental health is a serious issue for everyone, it becomes even more complicated for women as they have so many other issues to deal with. In Canada, it is to increase awareness about women’s mental health that Shoppers Drug Mart organises this special ‘Run for Women’ in 12 cities.

The options are a 10km run, a 5km run or even 1km walk for girls under 12. Many parents who have a young girl in their own family come out to support this race every year.

2.    Using Established Marathons For Mental Health Awareness

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also who lent their support to the campaign.

The London marathon takes up a charity each year to raise awareness and money for a particular and relevant issue.

In 2017, they chose mental health and joined hands with Heads Together – a charity committed to the cause of improving knowledge of mental health in the general public.

The 700 people who represented Heads Together included the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also who lent their support to the campaign.

A large number of people, running into thousands, were given blue headbands representing the charity and they wore it proudly while participating in it.

3.    Are These Efforts Bearing Fruit?

They most certainly are! When people see a large number of their fellow citizens taking to the roads to raise an issue which has been pushed under the carpets for a long time, they are bound to take a positive message away from it.

Marathons are used to raise all varieties of issues, from protecting wildlife to opposing international warfare. Campaigners for mental health have realised that this platform is equally useful to create awareness about mental disorders and their devastating effect on the lives of people.

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