TWO well-known Cumbrians have joined forces this Mental Health Awareness Week.

Gary McKee and Harrison Ward have united in their message that being out in the fresh air with nature, whether that be walking up a fell to cook dinner or running every day for a year, does ‘wonders’ for one’s mental wellbeing.

Cleator Moor’s Gary, who is running a marathon every single day this year for Macmillan Cancer Support and Hospice at Home West Cumbria, said: “Running is a tool many use to escape; it’s a low-stress activity and studies have shown that regular running can have the same effects as medication in relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression.

“One of the things I’m enjoying most about the challenge is the number of people getting involved by either running or cycling with me or doing their own activities to help fundraiser.

“To anyone who is struggling, I would really encourage them to get outdoors and do a bit of exercise. I always feel better after a run, and it can also allow me to meet other people. I understand not everyone can run a marathon, but it doesn’t matter how far you go if you’re moving.

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The theme this year for Mental Health Awareness Week is Loneliness, Harrison who is best known as Fell Foodie from Ambleside, said: “For me, loneliness is a particularly powerful theme when it comes to mental health and facing your demons. The fact is, it is all too easy to believe you are the only person going through this and, if Mental Health Awareness Week is about anything, it is about showing you are not alone.

“I’ve lost count of the occasions I’ve enjoyed sitting on a Lake District fell top, feasting my eyes on a sunrise that seems to have been laid on by nature just for me. At the best of times, solitude gives you the chance to calmly digest your own thoughts without interference from anyone else.

“But, like almost everything in life, there are two sides to solitude, and it is always possible to have too much of a good thing. This is the point where soothing seclusion can become outright loneliness. But the fact is, except in perhaps the most extreme cases, we usually have a choice about whether to face the world on our own or seek help from others.”

One in four UK adults say they have felt lonely some or all of the time over the last month, according to a by the Mental Health Foundation.

For more information about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, visit