A NEW podcast on how sport can boost mental health sufferers is set to be launched.

‘Run Free’ is being put together by the Echo’s chief sports reporter Chris Phillips and Eddy Cooper, who have both battled through their own troubles.

And Phillips has been overwhelmed by the early response.

“Both Eddy and I have used sport to help our own mental health issues but now we’re taking things a step further with the podcast,” said Phillips.

“The response has been superb and we’re already talking to a number of people about it.

“We have a number of superb guests already lined up including Neil Harris, Michael Kightly and Dean Macey but the main thing is doing what we can to help those who are struggling.

“It’s a huge topic and it’s pleasing to see it’s getting more attention during Mental Health Awareness Week.

"But it’s a huge issue and one which should always be spoken about. It’s heartbreaking that both Southend United and Southend Rugby Club have both lost former players because of mental health issues in the past year and we want to try and bring people together.

“It’s a serious message and one we understand more than most but we also want to make the podcast fun so we can interact with as many people as possible.

With that in mind, ‘Run Free’ will be forming a five-a-side football team open to those with depression while they are also looking at having sportswear made to try and raise funds for the mental health charity MIND as well as having being heavily involved with local running events.

A website is also being put together to help with all of the schemes and Cooper is keen to get as many people as possible involved.

"I think the main objectives of the venture are to not only increase awareness of mental health, and highlight just how common those sorts of issues are in today's society, but to create an environment where people feel more comfortable talking about it," said Cooper.

"Speaking to professionals of sport and people that have been in the spotlight will make it easier for others to talk about it and that's what I want us to be able to do, get people talking."

>Follow the podcast on Twitter and Facebook on @runfreeofficial and Instagram on @runfree.official before the end of May to be in with a chance of winning £50 worth of Pro Direct equipment of your choice.