On the 8th of July 2021, Henry Cock (34), a business owner from Sandton, Johannesburg, will attempt to smash the Guinness World Record for most consecutive half marathons in a row, to uplift South Africans struggling with mental health, particularly during the lockdown.
Henry, who is admittedly not a professional athlete, is training to take on 133 consecutive half marathons over 133 days, covering a distance of 2800km from Kosi Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, to Vioolsdrift, Namibia, to break the current record for men, which stands at 75.
Shattering Mental Health Stigma
Having battled depression and anxiety in recent years, due to the dissolution of his long term relationship, the strain that the ongoing pandemic has had on his businesses, as well as the daily personal struggles we can all relate to, Henry wants to dismantle mental health stigma with his mammoth challenge and be a beacon of hope to those who suffer in silence.
“I only became aware of my mental health issues in 2019. The more I started to delve into my personal experiences, the more I began to understand how important mental health is, and the more I learned that it is still a very stigmatised and taboo subject. It took me months of therapy to work up the courage and put myself on medicine, and admit to the people I cared about the most that I suffered from anxiety. It takes great courage to speak out and recognize that you suffer from a mental disorder. The more we can open the conversation surrounding mental health, the greater the understanding and empathy will be with those that suffer.” – says Henry.
Crowdfunding on BackaBuddy
With a crowdfunding campaign launched on BackaBuddy, Henry has also set himself an ambitious goal of raising over R6 million to support The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), an organisation on the forefront of patient advocacy, education, and de-stigmatisation of mental illness in South Africa.
According to SADAG, One person commits suicide every hour in South Africa.
Since the launch of his ‘Mentally Aweh’ campaign, Henry has thus raised over R200 000, with contributions from 43 donors both locally and internationally which will be used to help those without the means to prioritise their mental health and access treatment.
‘It’s time for togetherness, not individualism.’
With the COVID19 pandemic, there has been a ‘new wave of mental health concern’ says Henry, as people have struggled with isolation, fatigue, illness, and the death of loved ones on a larger scale than we are accustomed to.
“My hope is that as many South Africans as possible can have access to the help they need, and that is why I have set up my BackaBuddy campaign. I want people to know that it is okay to tell people you’re struggling with your mental health. It doesn’t mean your life is over, or that you’re different or weird – and it’s ok to take medication for it. These things all help, they’re not there to be stigmatized or laughed at or looked down upon as a weakness. The misconception that this problem has no solution is simply not true” – says Henry
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Connect with SADAG
Mental illness, and the stigma surrounding it, is a critical issue in South Africa. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is at the forefront of patient advocacy, education and destigmatisation of mental illness in the country. Its expertise lies in assisting patients and callers throughout South Africa with mental health queries.
For more information about SADAG, visit:
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