Ten marathon challenge to raise awareness of mental health

Ten marathons in ten days around one running track – that is the task David O’Connor is undertaking to raise mental health awareness.

The Shelbourne FC coach began the 422-kilometre challenge last Friday on the athletics track in ALSAA beside Dublin Airport.

Today, will be the fourth consecutive day he has run a marathon.

Mr O'Connor, who is fundraising for the charity Aware, saidhe hadbattled his own mental health issues.

He said: "I was bullied in school. I was the chubby kid and I was picked on.

"When you’re growing up looking at movies, it’s always the chubby kid who is the geeky one. So I just accepted it.

"I had low self-esteem and very little confidence. Career-wise, I was a little lost in my mid-20s.

"I had the perception everyone was doing better than me. I found it very overwhelming. I felt I had nowhere to turn to and found myself in a very low place."

He is using an athletics track for the challenge "to symbolise the isolation, repetitiveness and the pain those suffering with any form of mental health problems go through".

For more information and updates from David, check out his Facebook page - www.facebook.com/aware10in10

This week, RTÉ is running a special initiative on Youth Mental Health across a range of services.

RTÉ said The Big Picture - Youth Mental Health strand aims "to shine a light on one of the most important issues in the country".

It culminates on Thursday 26 April with an hour-long TV documentary and follow-on studio discussion.

RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes said: "With The Big Picture strand we interrogate some of the biggest challenges and issues facing Ireland today, bringing together journalists and producers from across RTÉ to explore the issues, and examine the solutions.

"The first Big Picture on homelessness aired in December. I’m delighted to see the strand return now with an important focus on youth mental health.

"The range of content, across all services, is inspiring, not least the dramatic work by artist Joe Caslin, which takes up an impressive three storeys on one of our main structures in RTÉ.

"It's a statement of intent behind a strand that I hope will ask important questions and present some interesting responses."

Mr Caslin has said it was incredibly important that mental health becamepart of our daily conversations.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said that we do not yet have the language, nor have we equipped our children, to speak about how we feel about mental health.

He said that youth suicide figures in Ireland were a huge concern.

Mr Caslin said the stigma of mental health problems made it so much harder for anyone with difficulties to recover.

He said that 24/7 access to psychiatric care was needed across the countryand that the current waiting lists were not good enough.

Read more news of Dublin on our site.

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