When and why did you decide to take part in a charity boxing ‘fight night’?
Although I had done some boxing in the past, I had never done an official fight, so this seemed to be a great opportunity to both raise money and have an exciting life experience. We had to attend an 8-week campus training and raise money for a charity of our choice prior to fight night. Halfway through, the organization pairs you up with an opponent according to weight and ability. After that there is a face off and after the 8 weeks, it’s fight time!
What made you choose to support Centre for Mental Health?
I chose Centre for Mental Health because I work as a Trainee Clinical Psychologist in the NHS and I often feel that the work in the therapy room is not enough to reduce the distress that a lot of people experience in our community. I thought that raising money for a charity like this could have a bigger impact at a societal level. I particularly liked the fact that Centre for Mental Health works with and for people who are often forgotten (i.e. people in prison).
Why do you think mental health research is important?
Mental health research and provision is still dominated by a hugely reductionist biological model with strong pharmaceutical interests behind it. I think it’s key to encourage and support other forms of research so that commissioners and providers have as much evidence as possible when making decisions. Often I see decisions being made on the basis of specific pieces of evidence that do not take into account environmental, contextual, economic and societal factors. I think decisions about mental health provision should be more thorough and critical, and research is one avenue to support this.
What were your experiences of training and taking part in the day itself?
Training for the boxing fight night was hard work, but I enjoyed it. I have always done sport and had done some boxing in the past, but preparing for a fight (even at a very amateur level) is a different thing. From the moment you start, you have a date in mind, and you know you have to get there in the best shape possible. You also know that your opponent is training at least as hard as you, so that pushed me, too! I am a very competitive person and hate losing so I did extra training on top of the standard course. I was training 5 days a week for an average of 2 hours each time. One of the things I enjoyed most was the people I met during training. It’s really good that we were all raising money for different charities. We all had different backgrounds, experiences and jobs, but we also had something in common. I made some friends and really enjoyed the time there.
The day itself was very intense. The atmosphere was unbelievable. A lot of my friends were there and I did not want to disappoint. I was quite nervous, but when they announced my name and I walked into the ring, all that tension disappeared. I enjoyed every single moment of it. Luckily I won, which was also helpful!
What would you say to others who are thinking about fundraising for the Centre?
I would definitely encourage other people to fundraise for Centre for Mental Health. As soon as I decided to fundraise for them, someone got in touch with me offering support. They work for a great cause and the people working there are really warm and helpful.