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Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for MIND

20 November 17 words: Alicia Lansom

One local lass is gettin’ out there and tackling one of the world's most dangerous mountain climbs in the name of mental health...

Every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem. That statistic comes from MIND, the mental health charity that aims to give support and advice to those suffering with mental health issues and prevent people facing their problems alone.

This is something that Nottingham born and bred Vanessa Lansom is getting behind, in the form of an 11-day round trip up the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. Heading to Tanzania in February next year, the trek will range from rain forest to artic glaciers and Vanessa is up for the challenge: “I love being outside and I can’t wait to feel all the different elements and see the glaciers, and of course have the feeling of reaching the summit.”

But due to the lack of 16,100 ft mountains in West London, where the 33 year old now lives, practice is mostly taking place in the gym. “I’ve started walking up hill for an hour as often as I can on the highest incline on the treadmill, as well as body pump classes with weights for my core.” To make the practice a bit more realistic, she’s also started wearing her walking boots any chance she gets. “I need to wear in the boots as much as possible, so I’ve been wearing them on the machines. People have definitely been giving me some funny looks.”

Given that the mountain is significantly tougher than the step-machine, is she worried about facing this challenge alone? “I decided I wanted to do the adventure on my own as I wanted to be out my comfort zone and experience a mental and physical challenge. Everyone I’ve spoken to says it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever done, so I’m excited to feel that absolute exhaustion and push through it with only my mental strength to keep me going.”

Alongside the thrill of the challenge, helping charity is a huge part of her motivation. For the past few years, Vanessa has raised money for MIND through charity runs and work events and wanted to continue to support them. “I believe that mental health is a subject that is still incredibly misunderstood.” This is something that MIND agrees with and aims to tackle through an information and advice phone line and local support networks. “I have sadly known of two people in recent years who have felt they had no other option than to take their own lives and I first hand saw the devastating effects it had on those that surrounded them,” says Vanessa.

“If the money raised helps one person – that’s somebody’s life, and that’s huge.”

The money raised on this Just Giving page goes straight to the charity and funds no part of the expedition.

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