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Mental health awareness returns to the fells with Mind Over Mountains project

Summit of Skiddaw, credit Joel McMahon

An innovative project improving mental and physical wellbeing through outdoor experiences is returning to the Lake District.

Mind Over Mountains C.I.C provides life-changing residential weekends in UK mountain environments to help participants restore resilience, build confidence and learn self-help skills to improve their mental and physical health.

Currently awaiting charity registration, the organisation is providing two events in 2020 in the Peak District and the Lake District, offering guided hill-walking, mindfulness, professional NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) coaching, counselling and inspirational speakers, with a supportive team of like-minded people.

From the 3rd – 5th April a group of up to 22 adults will venture to the remote Dalehead Bunkhouse in the Peak District’s Hope Valley, at the foot of Kinder Scout, the highest point in Derbyshire and the Peak District.

On the 1st – 3rd May, another group will return to YHA Skiddaw House in the Northern Fells of the Lake District. At 450m altitude, Skiddaw House is the highest hostel in Britain, and is only accessible by foot or bicycle, offering a unique opportunity to reconnect with nature and recharge from stressful modern lives.

According to mental health charity Mind in 2018, spending time in the great outdoors is a powerful natural anti-depressant, and regular exercise can reduce the risk of depression by 30% but it’s estimated that 40% of Britons spend less than fifteen minutes outside each day.

Inspired by a flagship event in 2018 curated by Adventure Uncovered, the concept has been founded by adventurer, author and YHA ambassador, Alex Staniforth, and NLP coach and international leadership consultant Chris Spray, alongside a professional team of mountain leaders and counsellors.

Alex, from Kendal, said: “We’re not saying being outdoors is a cure for mental ill health. But we passionately believe it’s the most overlooked resource we have to counter the mental health crisis we’re seeing in society, and it’s certainly been the most effective therapy for managing my own mental health challenges. By combining these elements together, I hope we can create life-changing experiences to help others benefit in a similar way.”

Mind Over Mountains weekends are open to anyone over eighteen who might be struggling with their mental well-being and/or would benefit from the opportunity to get outside more often. The organisation offers bursary places to the unemployed, students, or those otherwise unable to take part due to their circumstances.

“It’s been inspiring to see a group of people coming together from a wide variety of backgrounds to find common ground, support each other, and for many, stretching their comfort zones too. Ultimately to break free and create more hopeful stories for their lives.”

“As a charity we hope to be able to deliver many more events so more people can join us and share the joy of being outdoors.”

Please visit the website to find out more, to join the events, and apply for bursary places at www.mindovermountains.org.uk

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