IT is a recognised known fact exercise aids mental wellbeing.

Fresh air is recommended by experts to help those with mental health conditions.

Sports coach Gareth Gailey knows how easy it is for people to try to run from their problems.

He has made it his mission to encourage people to run for a positive reason, to help them channel their emotions.

His running club, Team 2gether, has since become a lifeline.

RUNNING away from our fears and anxieties can often feel like the only way out.

But Gareth Gailey has helped people to use running as a way of channelling their emotions and tackling their conditions head-on.

Gareth set up a business called Parkside Running.

He has always been interested in the mental and emotional aspect of sport and wanted to bring this into his business which he runs from Highwoods Health Clinic in Colchester.

He ended up becoming a mental health ambassador, breaking down stigma around mental health.

He became someone who could understand and be receptive.

It was the driver behind his latest venture, Team 2gether - a running group which includes members with mental health conditions.

My Gailey, 45, of Parkside Quarter, Colchester, said: “As soon as we started to promote it it was massively obvious there was a much bigger demand and more potential.

“It’s about sharing and doing exercise, it’s not at all performance driven.

“Many people have been interested and we secured a bit of sponsorship to buy vests and it just spiralled.”

The scheme is made up of four groups who run for two days a week.

It has just received a boost in the form of £1,000 from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme.

Mr Gailey said: “We are unravelling new projects like getting entries to big running events. We have had to quickly put in a constitution as it’s going to be bigger than was ever expected.

“We are going to start working with health agencies, anyone who we can provide a service to.

“We want to remove the obstacles for people wanting to take part.

“For some members finance is an issue, so we are trying to take that away by providing things like running clothes.”

The group already has about 60 members. Not all have mental health conditions.


Still, Mr Gailey is able to connect with them all on a personal level and intends to have them taking part in running events by the end of the year.

He has a level of understanding of mental health. He said: “I had very mild depression, I married and divorced quite young and didn’t handle it very well.

“I also have family members with anxiety.

“From my own personal experience I have empathy for their situation.

“The biggest thing we can give is well-being and stability, and someone to talk to.

“It’s the first and foremost thing, there is no limit on their ambition.”

Mr Gailey took up running from a young age although at that stage he had no idea it was linked to mental wellbeing.

Now, there is a recognised connection between physical and mental health.

He said: “I didn’t know about the benefits at the time but instinctively I knew what to do, so maybe I was self-medicating.

“I’m a great believer the body knows what the body needs.”

The group meets at the Highwoods Health Clinic in Wyncolls Road on Mondays and Wednesdays at 10am and 7pm and is open to everyone.

Mr Gailey said: “We never ask about mental health, that information is always volunteered. The most common condition is depression or anxiety and there’s a lot of people who join the groups because of insecurity or low self esteem.

“It’s good for me as a coach as it makes me thing about the way I deal with people - it does have its own challenges but I knew it would.”

Alice Randell is a member of the group which she joined whilst experiencing severe depression and anxiety.

She said: “I started to run for something to do while I was an inpatient in the Lakes Mental Health Unit. It gave me such a buzz when I finished.

“It was recommended to me by a friend. I was nervous to start with as I didn’t want to hold any of the runners back but you really don’t have to worry.

“You will never be on your own. Gareth and the team are so supportive - not just with the running but to talk to as well.

“It has really helped me to get some of my confidence back and when I’m out running my anxiety is manageable.”

To get involved visit Team 2gether on Facebook.