Running for mental health awareness

WE’RE so used to running away from something. It seems easier that way, more dramatic and telenovela-ish. We run away from our problems, our fears, and our insecurities. We trip over ourselves avoiding people and situations that make us feel uncomfortable or conflicted.

But mostly, we run away from the great responsibility of facing our issues and from the humility and knowledge that comes with asking for help when we need it the most. And when we run away from the burdens our minds and emotions produce, where do we run to instead? We then run for what?

The hashtag #whatareyourunningfor was used by the organizers of last Sunday’s “Run for Rico” (Running Invites Camaraderie and Optimism) in Memoriam 2017.

The event, which was organized by the Negros Group of Psychiatrists and friends, was a celebration of the October 10th World Mental Health Day and an active remembrance of the life of Dr. Rico Angelo “Rico” Gerona III, an advocate who dedicated much of his time and wisdom in helping people become aware and achieve mental health.

For two years now, Dr. Rico’s wife, Michelle "Misyel" Uy-Gerona, has been leading an annual fun run to mark the death anniversary of Dr. Gerona and to continue his legacy.

A seven-year marathoner and a runner herself, Misyel shares how according to leading pediatrician, Dr. Vicky Leff, the mental and physical requirements of running align perfectly with tasks that enhance mental health.

As it is an individual sport, one must rely on himself or herself only for result. Resiliency is built because one must accept there are both good days and bad days in running. Finally, because a successful run is a long-term commitment, the values of motivation and determination are honed into a person’s character.

Although Misyel admits that running does not guarantee a perfect mental health, it does provide people with more opportunities to work on and improve ways of coping with the daily challenges of life.

The pressures of fast-paced lifestyle and the ironic isolation cases brought about by social media have created some major mental health issues. Depression is now considered as a leading cause of disability worldwide. “Run for Rico” calls out on the whole community to reduce the stigma associated with having mental issues and raise funds for mental health advocacy projects. To help raise awareness, the organizers also featured art works made by grade 9 students of various educational institutions who were given drug addiction prevention workshops.

With more concerned individuals coming together to shine the light on mental health as an integral part of total wellness, more lives can be saved.

And as we take our step, our walk, and our run in life, may we step away from darkness, walk with faith, and run towards a better, healthier future.
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