It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and as a charity that supports the wellbeing of serving personnel through sport physical activities we are extremely aware of how important exercise is for a healthy mind.
We felt this was a good time to share with you the story of one of our beneficiaries who turned to exercise to help him through a difficult time. Having come out of the other side he is now keen to give back to the charity that has supported him and in September this year will be cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats and is fundraising for the RAF Central Fund.
I was a keen sportsman when I first joined the RAF and at the start I continued my civilian passion for road cycling and rugby league. Unfortunately, over the years, promotions, postings, workload and family commitments meant sport had all but disappeared from my schedule. Life and career aspirations had taken over and without realising it I wasn’t looking after myself mentally or physically.
Then quite suddenly my apparently well-structured life fell apart. Several life-changing events in quick succession, including family bereavement, a child with drug addictions and a serious false accusation at work, shut me down emotionally, turned me into a recluse and even made me question my value to the world.
As a result, I compensated by becoming a work addict and hiding from the truth. While I believed I was in control, the truth was my mental wellbeing was at rock bottom and I needed mental health professionals to get myself well again. It took me far too long to get that help but eventually I knew I couldn’t ignore it and went to the doctor.
The road to recovery began with therapy and the astonishing understanding of my family and colleagues. But sport and exercise, supported by the RAF Central Fund, was a critical part of my long-term wellness. The Central Fund is known for funding sport in the RAF, but it less known for their support to those recovering from mental issues with charitable grant funding to help get them active again. They give those in need a chance to find wellbeing and happiness by taking part in their chosen sport, regardless of their standard and regardless of their ability; the important thing is getting those in recovery active.
That’s why I’m doing the journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats in September 2021 to raise money for the RAF Central Fund. 980 miles in 9 days on my bike and proudly wearing the cycling kit provided by the RAF Central Fund.
If you would like to support me in my challenge then please visit my fundraising page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/justin-wall-2gp-wo and lets help them continue their great work to safeguard our health and wellbeing.
And as for mental health in the RAF, let’s remove the stigma and get active!
WO Justin ‘Max’ Wall
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