Visit of Tartan Explorer boosts awareness

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Supporters in Lewis were happy to welcome the Tartan Explorer Josh Quigley, on a visit to the Island as part of his cycle trek around Scotland.

He hopes this challenge will raise awareness around suicide and mental health and is a precursor to him commencing a global cycle trek on May 26th that would take him to 80 countries for the same purpose.

Four out of every ten of us will experience mental health difficulties at some point in our lives. What blights the lives of many sufferers is not just the symptoms themselves, but having to deal with the malaise of stigma, ignorance, prejudice and misinformation that still surrounds mental health.

It is this conviction to take the issue out of these shadows that has motivated Josh. He survived a suicide attempt in May 2015, and, having been given a second chance of life, he wants to take something positive out of the experience in order to improve community resilience and understanding. He is doing this in partnership with See Me Scotland, Scotland’s national anti-stigma and anti-discrimination in mental health programme.

The fact that Josh is visiting both urban and rural areas throughout Scotland acknowledges that rural areas such as the Western Isles, notwithstanding the magnificent scenery, have their own unique stresses.

Isolation and lack of employment and amenities in scattered townships can take their own toll on mental health. However, Josh is highlighting that when we tumble down, we must not disintegrate alone, but that there should be support and kindness without judgement for us, along with the prospect of recovery and reconstruction.

Josh was fortunate that the scenery was at its best, with the sunshine transforming everything. At the close of his visit, patrons and staff of the Western Isles Mental Health Association’s Catch 23 Drop-In in Stornoway were delighted to show him round.

The companionship and sympathy provided in this space is a lifeline to many who would otherwise struggle, and Josh was clearly impressed with the facility.

The thoughts and good wishes of many will accompany Josh as he cycles on to the finish of his Scottish trek in Edinburgh.

Josh is pictured at the Catch 23 drop in centre in Stornoway.