At 18 years old, Rossett sixth-former Chloe Bellerby couldn’t be more committed to raising awareness of mental health - she’s so committed, in fact, that on Monday she sets off on a 220-mile walk from Leeds to London to do just that.
Chloe has opened up about her own struggles with mental health to help others, and her inspirationally honest blog posts have been widely read and shared across the Harrogate district and beyond.
Her extraordinary walking challenge not only aims to raise vital funds for Mind, but awareness, too. Chloe’s huge fundraising efforts have already secured £3,000 for the charity - before she even starts.
Chloe said: “For me, my lowest point was when I tried to take my own life. I thought I was better off dead than alive, which is a terrifying thought.
“When you are in that mindset, you feel like there is no other way out. I am quite a private person, so I think a lot of people were shocked when I started speaking about it. But talking about it is a massive step in the right direction - talking about it inspires others to do the same.”
Walking with her dad and friend Karolina Gasiorowska, who will be an on hand physio, Chloe has been overwhelmed with the support for her challenge, and her blog posts.
She said: “I never expected the response I’ve had. For me, if I can save one person’s life, it’s worthwhile. There is still a stigma around mental health that will take a while to go - people think because they can’t see it, it’s not real. But it is very much real.
“Everyone is so accepting of other body parts breaking down, but with mental health people don’t always know how to respond to it, or don’t want to know.
“So many people are going through it - I don’t think many realise just how many people suffer with it.”
Chloe sits her final exams in May, and will be revising en route to London.
A determined mental health campaigner, a hard-working student and a player for Harrogate Town Ladies, Chloe is following her dreams and has been accepted onto a prestigious football scholarship in America.
Friends have already said that they will be doing legs of the walk with her. To sponsor Chloe, go to: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chloe-bellerby