A Co Down man has raised nearly £30,000 for a local mental health charity after going public about his battle with depression.
Peter Phillips from Saintfield recently completed the Sydney Marathon to raise awareness of mental health issues, in turn generating £27,155 for AWARE.
The 24-year-old, who has relocated to Australia, took to the internet to share his story of recovery from mental health issues to encourage others to open up and to seek help from the free resources available in Northern Ireland.
He set up a justgiving page calling out for people to sponsor him in the Sydney Marathon (on September 15) to raise funds for one of those available resources – AWARE, a depression charity for Northern Ireland.
Peter said: “I was, in fact, living with anxiety and depression, however unwilling I was to accept it.
“In all aspects of life, I was always very independent, deeming asking for help as a sign of weakness.
“I treated my mental health the same way, and as a result, things spiralled to the point I couldn’t cope anymore.
“This essentially culminated in the development of suicidal thoughts. It wasn’t until this stage that I accepted help was required.
“Northern Ireland is in the midst of a crisis in mental health, and for the majority, large waiting lists await on the NHS. Unfortunately, help at times comes too late, and not everyone has a success story like mine.”
Peter ran the Sydney Marathon with his brother James, completing the race in a time of four hours and 25 minutes.
Of the charity AWARE he said: “The service they provide is free of charge to those in need, which provides a lifeline and chance to change lives. Any funds I raise will help ensure these much-necessitated services reach as many people as possible.”
Lesley Wright, community and events fundraising officer for AWARE, said: “We are just so touched by Peter’s dedication to raise funds for AWARE.
“It is incredible to see a young man open up about his journey with mental health and hopefully encourage so many others like him that it is ok to do the same.
“The funds and mind-blowing messages of support that Peter has received will go a long way towards helping those living in Northern Ireland with depression, anxiety or bipolar, and who need a little bit of support on their road to recovery.
“We would also like to thank those who have supported Peter by sponsoring him, and of course his brother James for travelling with Peter and taking part in the marathon to support him on his personal challenge.”
All of the money raised by AWARE is spent in Northern Ireland.