A MILITARY police officer is taking part in a near 40-mile trek to raise awareness of the importance of looking after your mental health.

Lance Corporal Anna Stanley credits the support of family and friends, as well as the care she received last year at Southern Health’s Parklands Hospital, in Aldermaston Road, with her recovery from a recent mental illness.

Anna said that because of the support she received, she was able to educate herself and bounce back, and now wants to get more people talking about their issues.

In a bid to raise awareness of mental illnesses and money for two causes – Parklands Hospital and the charity MIND – Anna will embark on a trek from the Basingstoke hospital to Bulford Military Police Station where she is based.

Anna said: “I wanted the run to represent the journey I’ve taken over the past few months.

It will be physically and mentally challenging, but it will show my strength and determination – both attributes you need to overcome, or help someone else overcome, mental illness.”

The lance corporal set off on her run from Parklands yesterday and hopes to raise more than £1,000.

She added: “Too many people suffer with mental illness and it’s my aim to raise awareness and get people – colleagues, friends and family – talking about mental health.

“I’ve been on my own journey and, thanks to Parklands Hospital, friends and family, I have bounced back and educated myself. I’ve learnt that it’s OK to talk and seek help when you need it.”

Susie Carman, a consultant psychiatrist at Parklands Hospital, said: “As a team, we’re very touched by Anna’s kind gesture. She has a real passion for fitness and, when she stayed at Parklands, she used the gym regularly and started taking some of our other patients out on runs in the morning.

“With this in mind, it seems fitting to use any monies raised to encourage future patients to be active whilst in hospital, particularly as there is such a strong link between exercise and good mental health.”

To support Anna on her run, go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/anna-stanley-4.