Girls from The Mount Senior School plan to row the length of York’s Ouse River on Monday 3 July to raise awareness of male mental health issues.
All funds raised by the girls’ charity row will be donated to the George Toplis Foundation. The charity supports young people with autism and mental illness. It also provides long-term funding for their engagement in sport.
The girls will row at least 84 kilometeres on stationary rowing machines, set up in the school dining hall. Guest rowers from New Earswick Rugby Club are due to join the girls at the 12-hour event while Year 10 pupils, on a sports tour in Greece, will lend their support FaceTime.
The fundraiser was inspired by the school’s head of physics Matt Cannon. Mr Cannon became the school’s informal advocate for male mental health awareness last year after an old rugby friend committed suicide. As part of his role, he gave a presentation to the senior school girls on the adverse effects of ‘lad’ culture on male mental health. He spoke about how the culture discourages men from exploring and discussing their emotions.
Male mental health
Men’s health problems, particularly mental health issues, are increasingly being brought to the fore by campaigns like Heads Together, spearheaded by Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.
‘Men generally find it challenging to talk about their feelings, let alone reflect on them,’ says Mr Cannon. ‘Women tend to have a greater support network and are able to talk about and process their feelings with their friends. Actually, women have quite an important role to play in helping men with their mental health.’
Members of the public wishing to make a donation can contact the school office on (+44) 01904 667500.