600-mile tour of Scotland highlights Mental Health Awareness

John Knight, Hannah Trotman, Karen Cox and Andrew Sim

Moray’s local Samaritans listeners were on hand to lend their support to a 600-mile cycle run that aims to spotlight support to Scots who are feeling down.

Tony McLaren is a national coordinator for the charity Breathing Space and he has teamed up with Samaritans’ Scottish executive director, Andrew Sim, on the round-Scotland ‘Mental Health Cycle’ during Mental Awareness Week (May 12-18).

Anxiety is the main theme for Mental Awareness Week and the services which the pair represent both offer people someone to talk to when things might be troubling them.

Samaritans volunteers are available round the clock, offering people a safe space to talk off the record. Breathing Space advisers offer free, confidential support where they will listen and offer advice to anyone feeling low, stressed or anxious.

Andrew said: “Our service has been delivered exclusively by volunteers for sixty years and we take around 300,000 calls a year in Scotland.

“We are here, every single day of the year, to listen and help people find the best way forward for them. During this ride we want to highlight that help is available for people, whatever they are going through”.

Tony added: “The simple message we hope to take across Scotland through this cycle is that mental health is everyone’s business.

“We can all take steps to help improve our mental health, whether that’s through exercise or perhaps by talking things through and being more open about how we are feeling. Our advisers here at Breathing Space are here to listen, no call is a waste of time”.

Mental Health Awareness Week is organised by the Mental Health Foundation to help raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues.

Isabella Goldie, who is the head of the Mental Health Foundation in Scotland, said: “In our recent survey for Mental Health Awareness Week almost one in five people told us they feel anxious all of the time or a lot of the time and that talking to someone was an important way to cope with this.

“It has never been more vital to have services such as Breathing Space and Samaritans to provide lifelines to people when they are often at their lowest point.

“Both services play unique and complementary roles, which are valued by thousands of callers each year in Scotland. We all need someone we can talk to when life feels difficult.”

You can follow Tony and Andrew’s journey on Twitter via @MHCycleforScot and the hashtag #MHACycleforScot.