Jacob Morris uses running as a coping tool for his depression. PHOTO COURTESY: JACOB MORRIS

Photo courtesy: Jacob Morris

RTA grad documents his run to wellness

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By Annie Arnone 

One year ago, Jacob Morris was unable to get out of bed because of his struggle with depression. Now, in partnership with Ryerson and CAMH, the 25-year-old will be completing and documenting ten half marathons across Canada in 30 days, as a part of his Run to Wellness campaign.

“My mental health has always been something that I’ve needed to take care of — I’ve struggled with anxiety basically my whole life, but it was around this time last year that I fell into a deep depression,” said Morris.

The RTA School of Media graduate left his job as a video producer in May last year at the height of his depression, and began to occupy his time with running.

“I wrote a short blog post documenting the struggles I had been going through over the course of that year and how I used running specifically as kind of a medication for my mental health,” he said.

Friends, family and strangers reached out to Morris after the post was made, thanking him for telling his story. It was that moment that he realized he wanted to produce a project involving mental health.

“I’m someone who has a lot of experience producing large scale events and video productions, but I’m also someone who deals with depression and anxiety. So why not marry the two and make this campaign which, over the course of the last six or so months has become Run to Wellness?” he said.

The campaign will focus on running as a therapy for mental health. Morris will begin the run in Toronto and will complete his challenge in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Halifax and his hometown of Waterloo. The footage will consist of training, running, and downtime footage between runs.

“The goal right now will be finishing the campaign mid July. In terms of content we plan on releasing all kinds of social media throughout the campaign — covering training and then the month long journey,” said Morris.

Morris’ partner and director of the project, Paige Foskett, has been by his side throughout his struggle with mental health.

“When he was in the very lowest parts of his depression, he started running a little bit here, a little bit there, and it kind of became a thing he did every day,” said Foskett, a fourth-year media production student. “When he came up with the idea it related to me on a lot of different levels.”

Growing up with severe depression herself, Foskett explains that she struggles with using the right language when speaking about mental health.

“I still talk as though it’s such a burden and I’m a victim,” said Foskett. “All these words that have negative connotations to them don’t help the cause, Jacob would say, ‘No, stop! That’s a negative word.’”

One of Morris’ goals with Run to Wellness is to change the narrative surrounding mental health and do it in a way that is not victimizing.

“A lot of the content, video wise and a lot of the literature you might find in a doctor’s office or something on mental health, paints people who are suffering as victims,” he said.

The project will begin in mid-June.

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