In 2017, a father of two attempted to take his own life following a mental breakdown. He had been suffering from severe depression due to many factors including abandonment, neglect, abuse within foster and care homes which was then followed by the suicide of a close friend and the tragic deaths of both his brother and mother.
Coping strategies over the years such as alcohol and drugs only intensified his struggles, leading to multiple attempted suicides as a means of escape.
But then, from darkest despair, came a transformative moment which led the father to turn his own life around before going on to build a national charity to help thousands of other individuals who were suffering from mental health problems.
That man is Manuel Benages – the founder of Athletic Minds Foundation.
“I was in a very bad place. I lost a very close friend to suicide closely followed by tragic deaths in my family, which sent me into a downwards spiral,” said Manuel.
“I was so close to becoming the next suicide statistic, but somehow I managed to find a way back.”
“My coping mechanisms did not work, and I made the decision to quit everything that was bad for me. I realised the first step was being honest with myself, which turned out to be the most challenging part
because it forced me to make essential changes in my life”.
“With limited support, I somehow I made the tough journey from darkness to light – and that’s where my inspiration for the charity
originated – from a simple desire to assist others.”
“My idea for the charity was to simply package the lessons I’d learned and what worked for me, and then share that with others dealing with their own struggles.”
Looking back over 6 years it’s hard to imagine how one man without any savings, funding or charity experience could achieve so much so quickly.
From being a tiny founder-led movement, helping a handful of individuals each month, Manuel’s unique concept for supporting others has now become a national charity in the form of Athletic Minds Foundation, which now helps thousands of people every week.
To date, Manuel’s unique community-led approach and holistic 8-week programme has helped nearly 100,000 individuals to transform their lives!
Learn more about this inspiring story and how Athletic Minds Foundation’s origins are deeply intertwined with Manuel’s personal journey in this video