A well-known local arts tutor will trek 150 miles across Donegal this month to raise awareness of how walking can improve mental health.
Peadar McDaid will walk around Donegal for eight consecutive days starting on May 24th as part of his ‘Mental Health Awareness Walk’. Starting in Donegal Town and finishing in Letterkenny, Peadar will travel around the coastline, taking in Glenties, Dungloe, Gortahork, Fanad and down through the Inishowen peninsula and finishing up in Letterkenny.
Throughout the journey, Peadar will be linking up with local communities, service users and their families and schools. He’s also inviting anyone interested in taking part to join him along the way.
Peadar, who has worked as an arts tutor with the Mental Health Service for the past 15 years with Create-A-Link Art Studio in Letterkenny, said: ‘The Mental Health Awareness walk around Donegal aims to challenge people to think differently about their mental health, and remind them that something as simple as walking can be a great help to improving it. Walking improves your overall well-being, and helps fight depression. Walking, like other physical activities, releases endorphins which improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety. Regular walking improves sleep patterns. Active people have a reduced risk of suffering clinical depression.’
Mental health professionals will visit schools along the route during the walk to talk to schoolchildren about ways to effectively manage your mental health.
Peadar added “We want to make people more aware of the services that are available in Donegal and how they can access them. Often people know there is help out there but it’s knowing where to go that can be the problem. During the walk there will be lots of activity and engagement between schools and communities and the service providers so we get the message out to as many local people as possible that help is out there, and there are ways in which you can help yourself also”
Since September 2016, he has been building up to take on the task of walking around selected routes around the cost of Donegal. ‘I always strive to promote positive mental health well-being, and late last year felt the need to keep up the momentum around mental health awareness. It will be a tough journey but if it helps even one person think differently about managing their mental health it will be worth every step. If your car is broken, you go to a garage if there’s something wrong with the electrics in the house, you get an electrician. But if your mental health goes wrong, it’s not that easy, being aware of your mental health and learning how to deal with it can be difficult. Raising awareness of what to do and where there is help is important,’ added Peadar.
The walk is being run in conjunction with Mental Health Ireland, local service providers, the Green Ribbon Project, the HSE’s Health Promotion unit and with the support of the wider community.