Adrian Thomas is celebrating having completed his ‘52 Marathons in 52 Weeks Challenge’ and has become a Mental Health First Aid Instructor all in the same week.
It’s fair to say that Adrian Thomas was a troubled man. He didn’t know where to turn when he’d faced several significant life events in 2011 and, having suffered with Mental Health issues he’d kept to himself for a large part of his life, the Hailsham man was diagnosed with severe depression after what he describes as a complete breakdown.
“All these experiences of stigma
often came down to a lack of
understanding and corporate empathy”
Initially subjected to terrible stigma in the workplace Adrian found himself shut off and unable to work. As with many people in this position, he spiralled further and planned committing suicide on several occasions.
Fortunately Adrian was one of the lucky people that had a close network of friends and family that, over the next 12 months, helped him to better manage his mental health and regain some of his previous vigour for life.
Adrian says, “without the people I had supporting me at the time, I’ve no doubt I wouldn’t be here, leaving a child without their father and a wife without her husband.”
As part of his self-management, Adrian took up running, going on to complete marathons and, in 2015 he ran the London2Brighton 100k event, raising over £1,000 for the mental health charity, Mind.
Whilst completing personal challenges and events Adrian went on to advocate for better mental health and, at the same time, discovering that people around him had also had similar journeys or faced other awful instances of stigma.
“Two things rattled around in my head constantly; the first, that all these experiences of stigma often came down to a lack of understanding and corporate empathy and, the second was something my wife had said to me once, “I didn’t have anyone I could ask, there was no one I could turn to and help me understand what Adrian was going through,” feeling powerless to help when he needed her support to get through it.
I wanted to do something to change this. Then two things happened:
Firstly, Adrian started his ‘52 marathons in 52 weeks Challenge’ in late April 2017, which he actually completed in 50 weeks. Every marathon was a fully recognised official event.
Secondly, on World Mental Health Day 2017 Adrian launched his own registered charity, Different Minds. The aim of this is to promote and protect the good health of those with mental health issues by training others in Mental Health First Aid, predominantly by working with businesses to nominate an employee to be a Mental Health First Aider and thus helping individuals to manage their mental health within the workplace and encourage businesses to undertake a more positive approach to mental health or by working with such other organisations, groups or individuals to support the charity’s aims.
“We know that by opening up the subject
we will also make a big difference
to the stigma that people face
when having poor mental health”
Adrian, Mental Health Ambassador and Different Minds Founder & Trustee said, “It’s our goal that by providing free training we not only improve the mental health of others but help make positive mental health a top priority for businesses and community groups in the local area, now and in the future. We know that by opening up the subject we will also make a big difference to the stigma that people face when having poor mental health.”
Having had great support locally and from two Ninfield groups, the Carnival Association and Bonfire Society, the charity took a big step forward in January 2018 after receiving a Tesco Bags of Help £4,000 grant, which has funded the training of its first Mental Health First Aid Instructor and will be training the first 16 community Mental Health First Aiders early June this year.