Stu­dent chal­lenges brain and brawn

Waitaki Herald - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - RYAN DUN­LOP

A stu­dent of men­tal health who worked through his own is­sues with coun­selling and rig­or­ous ex­er­cise hopes if he shares his story about his strug­gles it will en­cour­age more young men and woman to seek help.

Oa­maru man An­drew Is­ger, 24, is train­ing at his lo­cal gym six days a week in prepa­ra­tion for the Snap Fit­ness eight week chal­lenge in which he hopes to reach some per­sonal fit­ness goals and raise $500 for the Men­tal Health Foun­da­tion.

Is­ger has a diploma in men­tal health and will com­plete his Bach­e­lor of So­cial Ser­vices this year.

With the cur­rent state of men­tal health in the coun­try and re­cent cov­er­age in the me­dia, he be­lieved now was the best time to chal­lenge him­self and share his story to en­cour­age others to do the same.

‘‘The suicide rate is mas­sive, there is one kid dy­ing ev­ery day.’’

Is­ger said he ‘‘went off the rails’’ af­ter some har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in high-school.

The is­sues that were left unat­tended con­tin­ued to grow, and by the time he was in the first two years of univer­sity study he suf­fered a men­tal break­down.

Sub­stance abuse was also a ma­jor fac­tor.

He used drugs ‘‘as an agent to es­cape my own per­ceived re­al­ity that at the time I was un­able to face’’.

Through his experience he learned the im­por­tance of reach­ing out to men­tal health and coun­selling ser­vices as well as speak­ing openly.

Now he was en­cour­ag­ing others to do the same.

‘‘Don’t be afraid, it’s all good. Ev­ery­one has men­tal health is­sues.’’

The gym had al­ways been a part of his life, at first to get fit and push his phys­i­cal lim­its, he said.

Now it was a re­lease for him to take out his anger, frus­tra­tion, anx­i­ety or de­pres­sion and fo­cus it on a pos­i­tive plat­form.

He said that work­ing out was not the an­swer for ev­ery­one strug­gling with men­tal health is­sues and he didn’t want to en­dorse that on his 8 week mis­sion.

The plan was to in­crease aware­ness specif­i­cally among young men and woman.

‘‘I am aim­ing to rep­re­sent men­tal health. The best way to help peo­ple is through con­nec­tions and un­der­stand­ing.’’

Is­ger will be post­ing his progress reg­u­larly on his In­sta­gram – an­drewis­ger – as well as shar­ing the sto­ries of others who have come for­ward to ad­mit their bat­tles with men­tal health.

He cred­its his par­ents for stick­ing by him and get­ting him the help he needed.

‘‘I point a lot of my suc­cess to­day to the guid­ance and love of my par­ents,’’ he said.

Andy Is­ger

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