Marathon finish line is just the start for West Mercia officer's mental health awareness efforts - The Bromsgrove Standard

Marathon finish line is just the start for West Mercia officer's mental health awareness efforts

Bromsgrove Editorial 7th Jun, 2024   0

A WEST Mercia Police Federation member says he wants to use the emotional milestone of completing the 2024 London Marathon to fight for awareness of mental health difficulties among police officers.

Student Officer Tom Stewart announced in April he would be running the Marathon as an official entry of Samaritans, a charity close to his heart due to the loss of his mother and grandfather to suicide.

Ahead of the race, Tom spoke about his hope of participation marking a point of closure, particularly towards the passing of his mum when he was a teenager, in his own mental health journey.

The 37-year-old said the magnitude of the event meant this was safely achieved, in an official time of five hours, 38 minutes and 17 seconds.

“It’s taken a long time for me to talk about my mum,” he said. “As I have slowly but surely begun to open up about her and my feelings of grief, I have felt a momentum building inside me where I feel stronger to take things on because nothing could ever be as hard as that.

“I knew the Marathon would be tough, though, and running it would really prove how far I’ve come. It has been very good therapy for me, not just the day itself but all of the training.”

Tom’s punishing training plan involved exploits such as 3am runs in a balancing act with shift work and regular ice baths for recovery.

Thankful for the opportunity to “get in the zone’ in a way he ‘never have before’, Tom added he had discovered a new sense of discipline within himself.

Tom also grew his own Instagram account dedicated to his running efforts – @run.withtom – which the trainee cop said had connected him with people from across the world who had become invested in his preparations, including followers who had also lost loved ones through suicide.

He added: “The amount of people who don’t know me personally but wished me well was so nice – both online via social media and through members of the Force who I had never met before. It has been really touching.”

Now, Tom wants to bring his own goodwill to officers by taking all of this momentum into further mental health ambassadorial work.

He is already looking into the possibility of running another marathon in sponsorship of his policing colleagues.

“I want to do something for police officers around the country. Everyone does an incredible job in the face of adversity, and now I’m wondering, ‘what can I do for officers’ mental health?’ because we all know it is not easy,” he said.

Whatever the future holds, Tom can proudly say he has raised over £2,700 for a leading mental health cause, as well as awareness on the topic.

“I want to say a massive thank you for all the donations, the words of encouragement, the social media backing, and everything else. The level of support has been overwhelming.”

“I just want to continue spreading the message, you are never alone – there are always people out there who want to help you,” Tom said.

Visit to donate.

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