A WOMAN is pushing her body to the limits to help raise awareness about mental health — an illness she believes has become ‘epidemic’.

Nabila Afilal, from Walmersley, is going back to her roots in Morocco to take on North Africa’s highest mountain in aid of a Bury charity that provides support and recovery for people with a mental health problem.

Mental health affects around one in four people each year, ranging from depression and anxiety, to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

To raise the profile of the issue, and to support volunteer-led Bury Involvement Group (BIG) in Mental Health, Miss Afilal is in training to climb the 4,167-metre-high Mount Toubkal, in southwest Morocco.

The 38-year-old said: “I have always wanted to raise money for mental health because of friends and family who have really suffered with mental health problems. I have come into contact with a lot of people who needed help.

“Mental health is a massive issue. I would argue it has become an epidemic. So many people are affected and there is a huge stigma around it; a lot of people do not want to talk about it.”

Miss Afilal, a project manager for a consultancy firm, has been in training for her climb for the last six months.

On May 10, she will fly out to Morocco ahead of a three-day climb with a team from travel company Adventure Alternative.

“Training is going well so far”, Miss Afilal said. “I have a trainer who has been helping me to get fit and strengthen my knees. I am also doing lots of walking.

“I will have to camp up the side of a mountain.

“I am really excited for this climb but I think when I get there I will be really nervous.

“It is going to be a massive achievement.”

Miss Afilal has already raised more than £200 for BIG via a Just Giving page.

The charity, based at Bury Business Centre, in Kay Street, is run entirely by volunteers, who provide support groups for adults experiencing mental health conditions.

Last year, a total of 455 people attended BIG’s various groups within the communnity.

It is open to everyone, and runs on an ethos of instilling hope, aiding recovery and empowering people to improve their quality of life.

Chairwoman Frances Halligan said: “Without people like Nabila we would not be able to sustain our organisation. We are so grateful and humbled that she has chosen our charity. It highlights how the work we do is appreciated and valued. A huge thank you to Nabila from us all at BIG.”

The organisation was formed in 2007 and is led by people with lived experience of mental health conditions.

This year, the charity needs to raise £35,704 to cover its costs and ensure that the support it gives can be provided for free.

Nabila said: “My aim is to raise as much money as possible for this charity, which does so much to help people across Bury.”

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nabila-afilal1.