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Breathing Space and Samaritans team up for Mental Health Awareness Week

At the start of the Cycle

At the start of the Cycle

Breathing Space and Samaritans helplines have teamed up to turn the spotlight on the support available to Scots who are feeling down.

Tony McLaren (Breathing Space/ Living Life National Coordinator) and Andrew Sim (Samaritans’ Executive Director for Scotland), will be cycling 600 miles across Scotland, visiting as many Samaritans Branches and Mental Health Support Centres as they can over seven days. 

As well as promoting the work of Samaritans and Breathing Space, the bike ride aims to highlight the benefits of physical activity on mental wellbeing. Tony and Andrew’s ride takes place during Mental Health Awareness Week (12th-18th May), which has anxiety as its theme this year. The two different services both offer people someone to talk to when things are troubling them. Samaritans volunteers are available round the clock, offering people a safe space to talk off the record. Breathing Space advisers offer free, confidential support where they will listen and offer advice to anyone feeling low, stressed or anxious.

Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health said: “I offer my best wishes to the Mental Health Cycle. People living in Scotland benefit greatly from having emotional support helplines available, and I am delighted to see Samaritans and Breathing Space working so closely to raise awareness about mental health, which is such an important issue for all of us, and a real priority for the Scottish Government.”

The cycle ride across Scotland is supported by CrossCountry Trains and by Network Rail, which has been working in partnership with both Samaritans and Breathing Space to reduce suicide on the railways and to support people in distress, including railway staff.

David Dickson, Network Rail’s route managing director for Scotland said: 
 “We take suicide prevention extremely seriously and our aim is to save families, passengers and colleagues from the trauma of being involved in or witnessing an incident on our railways. Through our successful partnership we are able to provide our people with additional training and materials to recognise mental ill health or suicidal behaviour and intervene with confidence.”

Andrew Sim, Samaritans’ Executive Director for Scotland said: "Our service has been delivered exclusively by volunteers for sixty years and we take around 300,000 calls a year in Scotland. We are here, every single day of the year, to listen and help people find the best way forward for them. During this ride we want to highlight that help is available for people, whatever they are going through".

Tony McLaren, Breathing Space/ Living Life National Coordinator added: "The simple message we hope to take across Scotland through this cycle is that mental health is everyone’s business. We can all take steps to help improve our mental health, whether that's through exercise or perhaps by talking things through and being more open about how we are feeling. Our advisers here at Breathing Space are here to listen, no call is a waste of time". 

Mental Health Awareness Week is organised by the Mental Health Foundation to help raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues.

Commenting on the cycle ride, Isabella Goldie, Head of the Mental Health Foundation in Scotland said: “In our recent survey for Mental Health Awareness Week almost one in five people told us they feel anxious all of the time or a lot of the time and that talking to someone was an important way to cope with this, so it has never been more vital to have services such as Breathing Space and Samaritans to provide lifelines to people when they are often at their lowest point. Both services play unique and complementary roles, which are valued by thousands of callers each year in Scotland. We all need someone we can talk to when life feels difficult.”