YORK Racecourse, St Wilfrid's Church and Museum Gardens have all provided fantastic backdrops for an Army Cadet Force captain in his bid to raise awareness of mental health.

Today (July 10) is momentous for Captain Mal Clark, as it marks the final day of his 25 for 25 press-up challenge, designed to raise awareness of mental health issues.

The social media challenge sees participants record themselves doing 25 press-ups for 25 days and upload the videos onto social media.

Mal from York endeavoured to make his posts engaging by filming them at different locations across the city, including Duncombe Place, York Racecourse, the King's Arms and York’s Army Museum on Tower Street.

Mal has 40 years of military service under his belt and has a particular focus on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

He said: “This is a condition that affects a growing number of people, but service personnel who have been involved in conflicts both past and present are particularly vulnerable. In fact, they always have been but didn’t want to talk about it, as they maybe felt embarrassed or didn’t recognise the symptoms. Times are changing, though – thanks to the efforts of people like Princes William and Harry, talking about mental health problems does not carry the stigma it used to. It is increasingly recognised now that looking for help with your mental health problems is a strength, not a weakness. My aim is to continue to reduce that stigma by raising awareness through my daily Facebook posts.”

For the past 10 years, Mal has been a member of the Permanent Support Staff (PSS) attached to B Company, Yorkshire (North & West) Army Cadet Force, a MoD-sponsored youth group at Burton Stone Lane in Clifton. He joined the Army in June 1980 and rose to become the Regimental Sergeant Major of the 1st Battalion, Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire (a forerunner of the current Yorkshire Regiment). His last position before leaving his full-time military career was that of Welfare Officer, something which has given him a real insight into mental health issues.

He said: “I still get messages today from people who were helped back then by just having someone to talk to and to give them support - many of them have been popping up with positive comments on my daily press-up posts, so the message is definitely getting out there.”

Capt Clark was eager to emphasise, however, that PTSD is not just a military problem.

He said: “While my particular aim is to encourage servicemen and women to seek help with their PTSD, this is not just a military issue – people involved in any traumatic situation (including the NHS and key workers currently involved in the campaign against Covid-19) should recognise the importance of good mental health and feel confident about looking for help.”

He encourages people seeking help to call Samaritans on 116 123, Mind on 0300 123 3393 , text: 86463, or Combat Stress on 01372 841600.