In October, I will be running the Oxford Half Marathon in aid of The Oxfordshire and West Mental Health Fund. The Adult Mental Health Teams provide all too essential community-based services to adults within the district who struggle with a range of mental health problems.

I have chosen to run for The Oxfordshire and West Mental Health fund as I have been supported by similar services within the trust. Over the past year or so, I have personally struggled with my mental health, which was exacerbated by the various waves of lockdowns and feelings of isolation and uncertainty that emerged from them. Similar mental health services within the Oxford Health NHS Trust have been essential networks of support for me personally throughout this time, so I feel impassioned to raise as much money as possible in order to cement the ongoing function and presence of these services within the county.

I started running in the first lockdown in March last year. When I set off on my first 5k (albeit a stop-and-start endeavour) with a mixture of eagerness, apprehension and - truthfully - dread, I never would have thought that one year on, I would have ran a half marathon, be running 100km a month on a regular basis and become a self-proclaimed ‘road runner’. The positive impact running has had on my mental health - particularly in lockdown - has been immense. Immersing myself in the mental and physical strength that emanates from running for a prolonged period of time and being consciously attuned to my present thoughts whilst blocking out the outside when running through the streets of Oxford has been a powerful and important part of my routine (in and out of lockdown).

Running a half marathon, a milestone in any runner’s progression, to fundraise for a mental health charity would therefore be a particularly rewarding and gratifying experience for me.

So, please consider donating to this great cause and showing your support if you have the means! Giulia De Vita