Student challenges brain and brawn
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.