To mark Mental Health Awareness week – Monday 13 May to Sunday 19 May – Business in the Community NI (BITCNI) is supporting four men in their fifties on an eight day cycle challenge that will take them on a 1km scenic route from Mizen to Malin Head, finishing up in Belfast.
The group of men, made up of serving and retired firefighters, are saddling up and taking on the challenge to raise awareness of the high suicide rate in males aged 45-54, and to bring attention to the subject of mental health. The team will also use the challenge to as a way to raise vital funds for BITCNI charity of the year MindWise, a mental health charity that supports people affected by severe mental illness, mental health difficulties, and promotes early intervention for better mental health. BITCNI members SHS Group and Allianz are also supporting the cyclists.
The challenge was devised by ex-firefighter and therapeutic counsellor Noel McKee, Whitehead, who is keen to highlight positive messages around mental health. Noel said: “It’s well known that keeping active boosts good mental health and can also help prevent chronic illness. Just because we hit 50, life isn’t over. We want to show people that age isn’t a barrier when it comes to taking on a challenge that’s great for both our physical and mental health. The route is challenging, but it’s a great example of how, when we work alongside and support others, we can overcome hurdles that could seem insurmountable on our own. We’ll be helping each other along the route.”
Using the 5 Steps to Wellbeing model, the team intends to spread positive messages on social media about the importance of: Connecting, Being Active, Taking Notice, Learning and Giving Back, to help encourage discussion around mental health issues. Those that need help with mental health issues can download the crisis intervention app Here2Help, and are encouraged to talk to a friend or family member.
If you would like to donate to MindWise, and support the team of cyclists on their challenge, please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mizmalbel to make a donation.