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How one documentary explores the benefits of running for those struggling with mental health

A group behind a new running documentary: RxRun are attempting to show how running can have a positive impact on those dealing with mental health issues.

A group behind a new running documentary: RxRun are attempting to show how running can have a positive impact on those dealing with mental health issues.

The film, called Rx Run, is a feature-length documentary about the positive relationship between running and mental health, seen through the lives of three teenagers that have been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety.

The running program operates out of Credit Valley Hospital in Toronto where young people ages 15 to 24 who have battling mental illness are encouraged to join a running regimen that ends with a community 5K event. The programs started in February and ends in May with the Rx Run documentary following them on their journey.


The team consists of Bruce Baklarian, Felipe Belalcazar and Carlotta James. Baklarian and James were available to answer a few questions about their film. 

Noel Paine: Once your film is done, what do you hope people take away from it?

James: Mental health is part of who we are as human beings. We are also affected by mental health issues differently, and as such, we need different approaches to manage mental health challenges. Our documentary offers insight into one approach: to join a run therapy program.

I hope that our documentary creates greater awareness around mental health, offers solidarity to those struggling with mental health illnesses, and creates space for real dialogue to take place. Ultimately, I hope that one day we can move beyond the mainstream reliance of a pharmaceutical-dominated healthcare in Canada and into one that supports a more holistic approach to dealing with mental health challenges.

Baklarian: I want the audience to understand the parallels between the progress from not being able to run much at all and feeling hopeless and depressed, to being able to run a considerable distance such as 5K or 10K and changing one’s outlook on life to a more positive space.

Paine: Do you yourself run and how has that been to be involved in this project?

James: I’ve been running my whole life. It has been a form of medicine and meditation for me. At the end of my runs, I feel like I can take on the world and any problems that I’m faced with. For me, running is a spiritual experience, and an opportunity to connect and reconnect with nature. I also dealt with mental health issues when I was a teen as a result of living with a dysfunctional family. Running helped me deal with depression and anxiety at that time. Working on this film reminds me of the things I went through when I was a teenager, and that having strong support systems in place can make all the difference. 

Baklarian: Yes, I’m a long distance runner. Running is an integral part of my life, it not only keeps me grounded and mentally in check, but it keeps me strong. I have only completed one marathon but I hope I can do a few more in my life. Since I started working on this project I have found it incredible to witness first-hand how running can be used in such a transformative manner, especially in the lives of such an important group of people.

Find Noel on Twitter at @NoelPaine.

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