Mental Health

British Army corporal taking on 185km hike to raise awareness on mental health

Natalya Platonova will complete the walk with a medicine ball to signify the "invisible burden" of mental health.

A British Army corporal is hiking 185km along the River Thames to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Corporal Natalya Platonova won Channel 4's reality show The Circle in 2021 and told Forces News her appearance on the show "opened [her] up to a host of problems" with self-image, self-confidence and anxiety.

"I was in a really low place last year over Christmas and I think the only thing that really got me out of it was just being open and honest with myself and my loved ones," she said.

Now, Cpl Platonova is taking on the Medicine Ball Challenge, sponsored by both ABF The Soldiers' Charity and Combat Stress, and said she took on the challenge as the medicine ball signals "the invisible burden" of mental health struggles and is also a personal challenge.

Cpl Platonova said the 185km trek is "a battle with myself and my own head" that she thinks she will win.

"To me, it's a challenge in itself because I've got quite bad social anxiety," she said.

"I don't like speaking to people, so I'm like a beacon of curiosity at the minute and people will come up and hopefully have those conversations about what I'm doing and what this is.

"I just want people to come and actually help me carry the burden, exchange the ball around."

Cpl Platonova added that her time in the British Army will definitely help when taking on the walk, and not just physically.

"It's not the physical side of this challenge that would concern me, it's the mental resilience to be alone in your thoughts, potentially 20 miles a day.

"I'm looking forward to just cracking on and I think it's a battle with myself and my own head and I think I'll win."