A Dundee mental health nurse is encouraging people to “unwind the mind” with exercise.
Ashley Bonini, 39, started the Let’s Talk Tayside mental health charity three years ago when she was a student nurse.
The charity went on to gain thousands of followers and has won Ashley a community involvement award from Abertay University.
Now, the Fintry resident has launched her own line of active wear as part of her efforts to encourage people to exercise to improve their mental health.
She has also pledged to donate a percentage of profits to local support services.
Covid-19 volunteer nurse
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Ashley was one of the city’s first student nurses to volunteer to start work early to help out when there were fears that local hospitals could be overwhelmed with cases.
Since then Ashley has graduated with an honours degree in mental health nursing. She has also formed a second group – unwind your mind – to get people talking about the benefits of exercise.
She has pledged to give 10% of profits from her new clothing and water bottle line, also called unwind your mind, to local mental health charities.
Ashley said: “Over my own years of illness and positivity I have understood the importance of fitness and mental wellness.
“I understand this even more so now that I’m a qualified mental health nurse. ”
When she was 18, Ashley was diagnosed with digestive illness Crohn’s disease, resulting in 48 operations.
She said the condition controlled her life and for many years she believed she would never overcome the effects it had on her.
She said: “I used positivity and fitness to get me to where I am now.
“From being told on one occasion I would have 24 hours to live to having amazing kids and an honours degree in mental health.
“In life we always try to help others which is absolutely amazing but when do we check in on ourselves we can’t pour from an empty cup.
“Exercise helps us in many different ways, it increases confidence, improves relationships and mood decreases and decreases anxiety and stress.”
Ashley said she decided to launch her fitness range to highlight the benefits of exercise.
She said: “I thought of how I could help make people understand mental wellness from a different angle.
“Encouraging people to work on themselves, which is what I have done over the years.
“It has been one varied journey but I got there.”
‘Unwind your mind’
The “unwind your mind” concept is aimed at all ages and genders.
Ashley said: “We women have busy lives – I’m a single mum who who has gone through university and it was sometimes a struggle but I always made time for me to exercise.
“Many other people also struggle in their own way.
“Evidence now shows that suicide rates in men are higher than ever before. I also want to encourage them to speak out and work out.
“Let us show our kids and educate them from a young age the importance of looking after their body, mind and soul.
“I want to show them that having this skills as they grow up will help them gain resilience and self soothing methods.”
Ashley has received a lot of support from Addicted2dance studio owner, Laura Nisbet.
Laura said: “I fully support Ashley’s new mental health initiative.
“She is trying to show everyone how important it is to encourage people to be involved in fitness to help their mental state.
“Working with children aged from just three I have experience with how massively being active can change a person’s outlook and take on everyday tasks.
“Addicted2dance will be with Ashley every step of the way and with her help let’s hope people start focusing more on their mental health and fitness.”