A Scottish Highlands-based mental health charity, which provides vital text-based and face-to-face support services, has released the season finale of its popular podcast series for World Mental Health Day (October 10).
In June 2022, John started walking the length of Great Britain – 1,200 miles from Land’s End to John O’ Groats – with the aim of starting a national conversation around suicide, He promoted his journey on social media using the hashtag #OneManWalkingAMillionTalking.
John’s son Cameron took his life without warning in 2019. Left feeling utterly helpless, John found walking a huge part of his finding his feet again.
As well as founding The Canmore Trust, John has been walking and talking the length and breadth of the country to better understand what can be done to prevent families like his facing similar tragedies.
Emily Stokes, CEO of Mikeysline, said:
“John’s story is thought-provoking and deeply moving – as are all those featured on the Speaking of Suicide podcast. By sharing these real experiences, we are able to learn more about our own mental health and that of others around us – and find solace in the fact that we are not facing these challenges alone.
“The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is to make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority. By addressing the stigma around mental health and suicide prevention in the Highlands and Moray, we are contributing to the global conversation – and allowing the stories and experiences of people in our communities to be heard around the world.
“Suicide rates in the Highlands are still sadly much higher than in most other places in Scotland, so there is clearly much more to talk about. And the more we discuss subjects that were once considered taboo, the easier it is for people suffering to realise that it’s ok not to be ok.
“We facilitate this conversation in communities throughout the north of Scotland with our work in schools, sports clubs and associations, and businesses. And our text-based support, and individual and group face-to-face services, allow those struggling with their mental health and suicidal thoughts to be heard, too.”
The Speaking of Suicide podcast features high profile guests – musicians, sportspeople, professionals and campaigners – discussing their experiences of mental health and suicide, with frank and honest discussions about the ways in which it has impacted their lives. Guests in the recent season have included:
- Gary Innes – International shinty legend, BBC Radio Scotland presenter and acclaimed musician Gary Innes was 16 years old when one of his friends took their own life. Over the next 20 years, a further five of his Lochaber Shinty Club teammates would do the same thing. Today Gary is trying to talk as much as possible about mental health, about remembering that it is ok not to be ok, that there is no shame or stigma, and there should be no silence. In this episode, Dan Holland speaks to Gary about his teammates and what he feels the world of shinty should be doing to help further support players and their families.
- Russell Mullen – Imagine you are a cancer doctor who starts to worry that you too have cancer, but that worry grows into an all-consuming obsession. Sounds like a version of hell but that’s just what happened to Russell, who talks to Pennie. We don’t often hear from doctors about their own health problems, but in this episode we hear an open and honest chat about what it feels like to become mentally ill when you’re a healthcare specialist.
- Mike McCarthy – The Baton of Hope – Mike McCathy’s son wrote him a farewell letter. Ross asked his dad to campaign for better mental health support for people like him: people in need. That was all Mike needed to pick up the baton and devote himself to developing one of the biggest suicide awareness and prevention initiatives the UK has ever seen – The Baton of Hope. Dan Holland talks to Mike about Ross and the aim of The Baton of Hope to create a society where suicide and suicide prevention are openly and widely discussed.
- Kev Stacy – Respite Rides with 42 Cycling – Dan Holland joins Kev Stacey from Inverness’s 42 Cycling to explore the benefits of the wide-open environment on our mental health. Former Black Watch soldier Kev takes Dan on a #RespiteRide and along the way talks about his experience of being injured in Iraq by an IED. The aftermath of the attack led Kev to struggling with his mental health and a gambling addiction. It was the power of the bike that helped him pull himself back from the dark places that came in the aftermath of his injuries. Today, he is using his experiences and love of cycling to help other people with their own mental health.
Speaking of Suicide is hosted by Pennie Stuart and Dan Holland, and is produced for Mikeysline by Adventurous Audio. Listen to John Gibson’s episode below.
Since 2015, Mikeysline has offered confidential, non-judgemental support to people of all ages dealing with mental health issues, emotional distress or thoughts of suicide in the Highlands and Moray. The charity offers a text line support service at +44 (0)7786 207755 and via WhatsApp at +44 (0)1463 729000 and also via its website, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter.
Listen to the whole Speaking of Suicide podcast series at mikeysline.co.uk/what-we-do/speaking-of-suicide-podcast/