PEOPLE on Anglesey living with mental health problems have welcomed a new running group which is helping them manage their anxiety, low mood and self-esteem.

The 'Couch to 5k' running group is thought to be the first of its kind in North Wales.

It was established by Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board’s Anglesey community mental health team with the aim of breaking a cycle of mental illness and physical ill health.

The Anglesey-based running group was set up by Hannah Jones, a community mental health nurse, who is a keen runner with the health board's running club, the Betsi Runaways.

"The people who attend the group have a wide spectrum of mental health problems ranging from mild anxiety to schizophrenia," she said.

"There is a lot of evidence to support that exercise can help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression, while also helping to prevent physical health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"The hope is that this programme will give people the confidence to join other running clubs and continue to use exercise as a way to live a healthier lifestyle and manage their mental health."

The weekly sessions at the Penrhos Country Park in Holyhead have been praised by those taking part for providing a supportive and non-judgemental environment.

The group has been meeting since early May and plan to take part in a National Trust 5km Parkrun in the grounds of Penrhyn Castle near Bangor at the end of July.

Among those benefitting from the scheme is Chelsie, who receives regular support from the health board’s Anglesey-based team.

"We all feel so good after each session and it’s something to look forward to," she said.

"If you’re in the house and you’re feeling rubbish then you need to know that it’s not the end of the world and groups like this can really help you feel better.

"I’d really encourage people to get involved.”

Fellow runner, 45-year-old Siobhan from Rhosniegr, added: "To be meeting with people who have the same sort of aim, and the same sort of problems as me and to be able to have a laugh with them is really important."