MARQUETTE COUNTY — Tonya Marra Allen is a Mental Health USA First Aid Instructor and public advocate located in Marquette County. She wanted to find a way to host something for Mental Health Awareness Month since all scheduled events have been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic. So, she started a Facebook group called Miles for the Mind.
“Exercise is one proven way to help ourselves cope better with mental illness and boost those feel–good endorphins,” explains Tonya. “So the idea for the group is to track our miles—either by walking, jogging, running, or biking—through the month of May, and not only help ourselves feel better mentally, but also raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.”
Tonya says that because of the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing practices, many people are experiencing heightened anxiety and depression. Going outside and getting active can have a significant impact on mental health. By sharing posts with the Facebook group about what they’ve been doing, members also find some additional motivation to keep going.
“Having a support system and having a little bit of accountability sometimes is just that little factor that gets you outside or gets you moving,” Tonya says, “knowing that you have this little group to post your miles and what you’re doing. I think it all just sparks all of us to be a little bit more motivated.”
Tonya started the group on May 1st, and the group already has more than 300 members. They even have members participating across the country, in states as far as Georgia, Virginia, and California.
Tonya is excited to see so many people getting involved, and she hopes the group can help to reduce some of the stigma still surrounding mental health issues in the United States.
“It’s a cause that I’m passionate about, and it makes me feel really good to see such a positive response,” says Tonya. “It makes me feel like we are moving forward with reducing that stigma and being open about it and supporting this cause. We are bettering ourselves, raising awareness, and reducing stigma one person, one mile, one state at a time.”
To learn more or to join the group for yourself, head to Facebook and search for Miles for the Mind or click here.