Ride Don’t Hide: bikes out for mental health

CMHA-organized event expected as many as 150 riders this year

Riders seen along the Thompson River during the 2015 Ride Don’t Hide event to promote awareness of mental health and the stigma against it. The Kamloops CMHA was expecting as many as 150 riders this year. (Cameron Doherty/The Omega)

Riders seen along the Thompson River during the 2015 Ride Don’t Hide event to promote awareness of mental health and the stigma against it. The Kamloops CMHA was expecting as many as 150 riders this year. (Cameron Doherty/The Omega)

Ride Don’t Hide bike ride took place in Kamloops. The ride, put on by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kamloops branch, as well as a committee of volunteers, aimed to both raise funds to help peo­ple dealing with mental health is­sues as well as raise awareness about just how prevalent mental health is­sues are in Canada.

The ride be­gan in Centennial Park in Westsyde and followed the Thompson River south before loop­ing back to the park.

The event has been growing ex­ponentially, ac­cording to CMHA property and office manager Shelley Trudeau, who is also an organizer for the event.

“The first year we had 40 rid­ers, second year we had 80 riders and this year we are expecting 150 riders,” she said.

Over $12,000 was raised by the Kamloops Ride Don’t Hide cam­paign this year.

The idea of using a bike ride as way to raise awareness about men­tal health issues began with one man, Michael Schratter. In 2010, the elementary school teacher liv­ing in Vancouver rode more than 40,000 km around the world to raise awareness about mental ill­ness in the hopes of eradicating the stigma often associated with it. Upon arriving back in Van­couver, Schratter partnered with the B.C. division of the CMHA in Vancouver and started the first Ride Don’t Hide event.

“It was so successful that they reached out to other branches in B.C. to see if they would be inter­ested in putting on a Ride Don’t Hide event in their community,” Trudeau said.

Kamloops was one of the branches that showed interest.

For volunteer Ingrid Pfeiffer, Ride Don’t Hide is very person­al event. Pfeiffer lost her son 12 years ago, only six months after he had been diagnosed with schizo­phrenia.

“There’s so many other [events] out there … but there really has never been anything for mental health, so that’s our big thing, just to raise the awareness and to let people let go of that stigma.”

By raising awareness, Pfeiffer hopes that those struggling with mental illness will be able to not be ashamed, to “say it out loud.”

One in five Canadians suffer from some form of mental illness in their lifetime. It makes sense then that the ride and Michael Schratters’ impact would not just be limited to B.C., but would spread further afield.

On June 21, there were rides taking place in four separate prov­inces across Can­ada, all of them with the same determination to raise money as well as awareness.

“Across Cana­da, our numbers right now are at $750,000,” Trudeau said, just short of their target of $1 mil­lion.”

Christa Haywood-Farmer, an­other volunteer, led the 10 km portion of the bike ride on Sun­day and spoke to why the event was important to her.

“Every one of us is affected by mental illness, whether it’s personally or through family or friends. This is a really great way to support them.”