Andrew blogs about his challenge to cycle around the circumference of Wales for better mental health.
Andrew is the Managing Director of React Support Services in Cardiff, Wales.
This week I am cycling around Wales with the support of my wife Bin and two sons Alex and Seb. The tour of Wales will test both my physical and mental capacity and will see me cycle around the beautiful perimeter of Wales, completing 1000 kilometres with 14,000 metres of hill climbing in just six days.
It’s going to be a challenge but it’s one that I’m ready to take on because it’s for a very important cause.
"He was a gentle and charming young man who had been struggling with mental health problems."
Mental health is so important and it’s close to my heart for two reasons. Earlier this year, some very dear friends of mine lost their son Lewis who sadly took his own life. He was a very pleasant, gentle and charming young man who had been struggling with mental health problems for some time. He was affected by the stigma around mental health which meant he lacked support and was taken far too early. He is dearly missed by his close family and friends.
As the Managing Director of a company that looks after vulnerable adults with mental health problems, I have gained great insight into how much of an impact mental health difficulties can have on everyday life. Sharing these problems with others is immensely helpful. It also helps to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health and encourages us to deal with the issues we all face at different periods of our lives.
"The stigma around mental health for men in particularly bad."
The stigma around mental health for men in particularly bad and I really wanted to opportunity to raise awareness of the fact that it’s okay to be struggling and to access help if you need it. Having experienced losing someone close to me and through my work, I’ve become aware of how much Mind Cymru does as a charity and I wanted the opportunity to help the great work continue, in raising awareness, campaigning to improve services, promoting understanding and offering advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.
"Getting outdoors and physically active can also have real benefits for people’s mental health."
Getting outdoors and physically active can also have real benefits for people’s mental health and wellbeing and as a keen cyclist I thought this was the perfect challenge to try and raise more awareness.
Some of my friends are joining me along the various stages of my journey this week. The route will take me in a clockwise direction hugging the Welsh coastline and visiting some iconic places like the Gower Peninsula, St David’s, Aberystwyth, Caernarfon and Abersoch. I will then be returning through mid-Wales visiting Builth Wells and Brecon before returning back to Cardiff.
It’s going to be tough but I’m ready to take on the challenge for Mind and help others to get the support they deserve.
Read about Mind's campaigns
We'll fight your corner. We believe everyone with a mental health problem should be able to access excellent care and services. We also believe you should be treated fairly, positively and with respect.
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.