Today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, two soldiers have launched the Medicine Ball Challenge to encourage military personnel, veterans and civilians to start conversations about mental health.
Co-founders Staff Sgt Andy Unwin and Captain Andy Perkins created the challenge after seeing friends, colleagues and loved ones struggle with mental health. Tragically, Andy Unwin’s wife took her own life last year and Andy Perkins’ wife has struggled with her mental health for several years. Both men felt compelled to make a difference and get people talking about military and civilian mental health issues and the support available.
The challenge involves cuffing a 3kg medicine ball to the participant’s wrist for seven days – to only be removed where the ball could be a dangerous hazard. It may not sound heavy, but being chained to the medicine ball continuously for a week is a significant ordeal. The weight of the ball becomes a physical, visual and tangible representation of the invisible burden of mental illness.
Andy Unwin says, “The Medicine Ball Challenge is very close to my heart. I’ve seen so many people I care about go through mental health struggles and some not make it through the other side. I wanted to create something that would raise awareness and encourage people to talk openly about their problems. Seeing someone handcuffed to the ball is such an unusual sight that we hope it will provoke people to ask questions. We are raising funds for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and Combat Stress that both do important work to help those that need it the most. We’re encouraging everyone to sign up and start talking!”
With a number of medicine balls currently in circulation, we are encouraging participants to meet up in person to hand over the ball once their seven day challenge is over (subject to COVID-19 Government guidance). This offers a great opportunity to start conversations about mental health with the next participant, as well as share some top tips for completing the challenge.
Anyone in the UK can take part in the Medicine Ball Challenge, which is raising money for our Charity and Combat Stress. Find out more at www.medicineballchallenge.co.uk