A NORTHWICH teenager in his first year at university has completed a challenge of running 27 miles in 27 days for the mental health charity Mind.

Jack Furlong, who is studying acting at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in Wigan, has found his first year outside of school challenging, with Zoom lessons meaning he has been unable to meet many fellow students in person.

The 18-year-old decided to take part in the 27/27 challenge as a form of solidarity with the 27 per cent of students who report mental health problems whilst studying at university.

Jack said: "Throughout my time at high school/college, like many other people, I struggled to deal with my mental health.

"For me it was mainly anxiety. During my GCSE/A-Level years I found myself struggling with the pressure I'd put on myself.

"This included the pressure to keep up my studies, whilst also trying to juggle a social life and relationships.

"I would get myself so worked up sometimes that I wouldn't be able to focus on any of these things, and eventually, it would all spiral out of control.

"Now I don't want to turn this into a sob story because it's far from that.

"In the grand scheme of things, I was affected very lightly and I'm incredibly lucky to be able to say that."

Northwich Guardian:

Jack Furlong wanted to draw attention to the many students who struggle with their mental health.

Jack, who did his A-Levels as The Grange,does not consider himself to be a regular runner by any means, managed to raise a total of £1,112 during the challenge.

"For a lot of people, and for some of my friends around me, dealing with their mental health is a lot more of an uphill struggle.

"I know people who have waited months (and I mean months) for mental health support.

"Now this is by no means a fault of the mental health charities.

"It is entirely due to the lack of funding towards them."

Jack began his university career in Wigan in September and was living in a flat with a fellow student during his first term, with his lessons being split 50/50 between online and in person.

"My course is mainly practical and when I first started it was half in person and half over Zoom.

"But since the second term, its all been on Zoom, so you're not seeing people.

"It's the first time you get to meet people so I haven't met half of my year.

"I've been back at home as it didn't seem worth it being up there.

"Plus I have my home comforts here which always helps."

Research undertaken by the charity reveals that suicides amongst students have risen by more than 50 per cent in the last ten years, due to not enough people being able to get the help they need.

Jack added: "The number of students reporting a mental health problem is five times greater today than it was ten years ago, while the number of students dropping out because of mental health problems has trebled.

"Every student taking part in the 27/27 challenge is sending a clear message - its time to take our mental health seriously, and won't give up until everyone with a mental health problem gets support and respect.

"27 27 itself has raised nearly £1,000,000 this year; it's highest total ever.

"It just goes to show how important mental health is and how we all need to continue to support in whatever way we can."