The announced date of the annual Ride Don’t Hide event put on by the Canadian Mental Health Association was celebrated at Unity House this week and was attended by dignitaries including Mayor Andrew Jakubeit (centre). The ride takes place June 25 starting at KVR Middle School and is to raise money and awareness about mental health issues. Mark Brett/Western News

Ride to end mental health stigma

Canadian Mental Health Association kicks off Ride Don’t Hide event

Suffering in silence.

Like many people who endure daily the emotional pain and internal turmoil of mental health issues, that’s how Jeremy McGoran lived his life. That was until two and a half years ago, when the local radio personality decided to do something about it.

“I finally spoke up and discovered what was going on inside my head,” said McGoran, who has since become a strong advocate to help reduce the stigma associated with what is clearly a much bigger problem than once thought.

“Once I started to learn about the shocking mental illness numbers, I decided I wouldn’t be silent anymore and that I would do my part to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“But then not only did I start to understand what I was dealing with, I started telling people what I was dealing with, because I was so surprised to learn how most people just suffer in silence. If that is the case you’re not going to get better.”

Since then he has used whatever platform is available, radio and YouTube, to broadcast his message.

McGoran was speaking at the announcement earlier this week at the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Unity House about upcoming CMHA Ride Don’t Hide event.

This year’s event, which is held in communities across Canada, is June 25 and is designed to raise money and awareness for the cause. This year’s goal for the ride is 150 participants and $20,000.

“Ride Don’t Hide is an opportunity to come together to fundraise as a community and say mental health is important to me, and it’s time to banish the stigma often associated with it,” said South Okanagan Similkameen CMHA executive director Leah Schulting. “We are so thankful for the support from the community, and those who have shared their personal stories of why mental health is important to them.”

The money raised here will go to support local programs and projects including Unity House where those with mental health issues can find resources, support and companionship.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit described McGoran as a hero.

“It takes a lot of courage for someone to stand up and talk about mental health,” said Jakubeit. “It’s something we need to de-stigmatize, so it has the same cache as as going to the dentist or going to the doctor dealing with mental health shouldn’t be a stigma and that’s one of the offsets of raising awareness.”

Ride Don’t Hide started in 2010 when Vancouver school teacher Michael Schratter, who was living with bipolar disorder, decided to cycle around the globe to raise awareness and money.

The ride is open to cyclists of all levels and goes along the KVR Trail starting at KVR Middle School with distances of 12, 14 or 36 kilometres. Entry fee for those registering before April 30 is $30 for youth and adults and $45 after that date.

Children 12 and under are free. Start time is 8:30 a.m. To register online go to ridedonthide.com.

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