Last March Dundee University Triathlon Club held a successful fundraiser for Support in Mind Scotland by completing a 24-hour relay across the Tay Road Bridge in which members ran in pairs for hourly slots at a time. This year, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, they were keen to still support the charity but knew they had to think differently about what they could do to help fundraise.

And so the concept of Dundee Tri Grasps the Day was born, where every morning and evening for the month of February, a club member went outside, did some exercise, recorded it on Strava and then posted a picture of the sunrise or sunset. The member then shared something that they were looking forward to that day as well as providing a quote that inspires them, or a piece of advice about how they manage their own mental health. The aim was to raise awareness of mental health issues and raise £500 for Support in Mind Scotland in February - and they achieved their target

May be an image of sky, twilight, beach, ocean and text  May be an image of sky, twilight and text that says "Sunset #26 from Emma Deans @french_ae Emma Deans Dundee Sootland Dundee Tri Grasp Day Walk! Wak chats sunsets Time 56m 57s Distance 4.93 km 60 BLACK Dundee And a cool picture of the moon @suppinmindscot @dundeesu"

Jenny Clark, Social Secretary at Dundee University Triathlon Club, spoke about the challenge.

Why did the club decide to fundraise and why did you choose Support in Mind Scotland?

I’m sure we all know of at least one person, be it yourself or a loved one, who has had blows to their mental health by the pandemic. With the loss of routine and structure, some people are really struggling to get out of bed on a morning (now more than ever) and to grasp the day. Over the Christmas break from University, I was trying to think of an original idea to get people into the outdoors for fresh air, which in itself can do wonders for our mental health. There were some stunning sunsets at home and I thought, why not use this as a stimulus for our fundraiser this year!

Myself and my fellow social secretary, Lucy Roberts, then put together a plan for a fundraiser over February. This advice, alongside the sun snaps, then gets posted on our social media accounts, with the aim of brightening someone’s day. We hope that the advice our club is putting out there also has a positive effect on followers’ mental health. This is something we think is very important as we are all spending more time on social media during the pandemic, and our social media feeds and constantly filled with material that may be negatively affecting our self-esteem and mental health. In addition, we want to raise general awareness of mental health and help combat the stigma associated with experiencing ill mental health. We hope that by starting conversations we can help in the fight against this stigma.

We are fundraising for Support in Mind Scotland as this charity seeks to support and empower all those affected by mental illness, including family members, carers and supporters. They provide many services throughout Scotland for those suffering from mental illness, feeling low or isolated and run an array of projects for people experiencing ill mental health. As previously mentioned, the causes they are helping are pivotal during the pandemic, thus we wish to support them once more in their brilliant work.

May be an image of one or more people and text that says "Advice from Emma Deans @french_ae "Staying positive doesn't mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days you know that there are better ones coming" stay PoSiTIVE Positive"

Have you found that the challenge has brought an awareness of mental health to the front of club members’ minds?

To communicate with everyone taking part in the challenge we have a messenger group chat. We have been astounded by the positivity from this chat. When sending in their pictures of sunrise/sunset, participants are encouraging others to get out early and grasp the day, as well as reminding everyone that even if the sky is dull, there’s so much hope for a brighter day tomorrow. We think that this metaphor is extremely important not just for taking pictures of the sunset, but for life – highlighting that having a low mood one day does not mean that every day you will feel the same way, nor is it some kind of failure. It is something to talk about with friends and other loved ones, to start a discussion and to start making positive changes to improve your mental health.

Are there any lessons learned from the challenge that the club will take forwards?

I think that a huge lesson from this challenge has been to remember how many people are around you that want you to succeed, are there to talk to, and how much love surrounds you. Sometimes when times feel dark it can be easy to forget that you are surrounded by people who want you to do well and are there to give you support. Even though some members in the challenge don’t know a lot about each other/haven’t spent a lot of time with each other, I feel as though they could message anyone taking part in the challenge if they were feeling low or just wanted a chat in the future. I hope that this is something that will bring the club closer together in the future, and get us talking about mental health whenever it affects any of our members.

What are the top three pieces of advice that have gone out on how to deal with stress or anxiety?

We have had so much great advice given over the month so far here are the top 3 pieces of advice from our members:

“Even though the sun didn’t come out today, I like to remind myself that no matter how stormy it gets, the sun will come out eventually.” – Ceri Powell

“Focus on what you can do. Not what you wish you could do.” – Hannah Louise Milner

“For me, exercising outside early in the morning does wonders for my mindset. Even if I do nothing for the rest of the day I’m much less likely to get myself into a negative mindset if I’ve exercised that morning. Anything as simple as a short walk!” – Rebecca Rodgers

Emma Deans, Dundee University Triathlon Club Captain, said:

“This fundraiser has been such a success so far! The committee have thought of an amazing idea to raise awareness for mental health in a unique way with a big impact. Everybody copes with things differently and it’s so nice to hear others stories and advice. Despite not being able to see and train with each other, members have been able to connect on a different level and still stay positive!”

We would like to congratulate and thank the whole triathlon team and those that supported their fundraiser. The challenge was a unique and inspiring success and your support for our work and mental health awareness in Scotland is invaluable.

If you would like to fundraise for us, please take a look at our fundraising page or send us a message.