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    Beyond Six – To help support mental health

    The past 18-24 months has shown us the importance of being outdoors. Lockdown made many feel isolated. Isolated from their family, isolated from their friends, and may continue to affect people negatively, not only physically but also their mental health. The feeling of isolation that people have suffered throughout the pandemic will have lasting effects to some. People may struggle to go back to what is considered ‘normal life’, with the potential of not seeing a way forward.

    Pre Covid pandemic mental health was becoming more and more prevalent and gaining traction. People began to understand that talking about mental health is no longer something that needs to be hidden, but something which needs to be out in the open and discussed before something detrimental happens to an individual. People realised it is OK not to feel alright, and talking about how you are feeling is the first step.

    One person who has a strong passion for both promoting a healthy mind and body, and knows the importance the outside world can have in supporting people mentally, in a safe and positive environment is Rory Parsons. Rory is a co-founder of a great organisation called Beyond Six. Beyond Six raises awareness of mental health by combining the great outdoors to help support people and their mental health.

    “Beyond Six started out as a group of like-minded people that all had two things in common: a love of the outdoors and our own personal struggles. Through these two connections, we grew closer and soon became a family. In early 2021, one of our team, Mick, our Beacon of the North tragically lost his life to suicide, and in that Beyond Six evolved into a Community Interest Company (CIC) with a mission to help raise awareness for suicide and lessen the stigma surrounding it.” Rory Parsons co-founder of Beyond Six

    The effects of the pandemic

    The effects the pandemic has had on our freedom and our ability to pick up and go when we want has made most people struggle living day-to-day. It has never been more important to have a mental health check. Take time to process what we have all been through and to reassess where we are mentally. Rory tells us the impact that their events have by just going for a walk.  “Our main way of facilitating our mission right now is through our free wellbeing walks which take place monthly. We invite people to come and join us for a steady walk and an opportunity to talk to people who get it. We have everyone from experienced walkers to complete newbies coming along, and after the effects, the pandemic has had, we have noticed more people wanting to get out than ever before. People have started to learn how important and impactful the outdoors can be to our wellbeing and joining us to help build their confidence in walking and hiking. Each event brings new people along, as well as people that have come to every single event. We also offer individual walks for anyone preferring to do this too.”

    Rory is no stranger to a challenge and he took part in The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge with members of the Cavendish Professionals on 18th July. The event was a hike of 24 miles, climbing over 5,000 feet of rocky terrain to raise money for BHF.

    Rory’s Beyond Six Mission

    “For me personally, I honestly believe that setting goals, whether they are mental or physical goals is one of the best ways to stay on top of your game. These goals help to keep me focused on staying healthy daily both in my physical body and my mind. Using the outdoors within these goals I find helps clears my mind and being around likeminded people helps me to open up and talk about things I would otherwise find hard to.

    This is something that we have also seen happening in the people that join us. We have seen friendships and new connections form between new people from all walks of life and these are connections that have carried on outside of our events. We have seen people’s confidence grow both in their outdoor abilities but also around other people socially too. People have felt heard and seen and not alone in their struggles or feelings and have felt able to open up and just talk about the things that are going on for them. We have seen people turn up as shy, quiet, and unsure, then progress to laughing, conversing, and building strong unbreakable bonds in the space of just a few short hours. But also, on top of all of this, we have seen people become inspired to step into the outdoors outside of our events, sign up for their own challenges and push themselves to set goals and encourage other people to come along and join us. People end up prioritising their physical and mental wellbeing and also help to start spreading our message with others.”

    The importance of having the ability to just walk outside and socialise, make connections with everyday people, is something that most people underestimate. If you are finding life difficult and not sure where or what you can do, get in touch with Beyond Six, and see if their events with like-minded people can help. You are not alone in the journey of life and speaking with people that understand what you are going through can help immensely and make a huge difference in your life.

    As we start to see restrictions being lifted, it is important now more than ever to get not only physically fit but mentally fit, Beyond Six can help encourage you to prioritise your mental wellbeing by utilising and exploring the outdoors. Please get in touch with Rory and the team. Visit https://www.beyondsix.co.uk/ or email the team at info@beyondsix.co.uk – Beyond Six’s Instagram – Beyond Six’s Facebook

    Further support articles

    Top tips on improving your mental health, pt 1

    Top tips on improving your mental health, pt 2