Mental health: The heartbreaking reason why one man is walking from his hometown to Amsterdam

  • Dan Simms spoke about his journey with ITV Wales ahead of setting off.


A man from Caldicot has embarked on a solo walk from his hometown to Amsterdam in an effort to encourage men to speak up about their mental health.

Mr Simms has lost two friends to suicide: Tom, who was his best friend throughout his childhood, and Rory, who was a friend from his local gym.

He sees it as his mission to raise money and awareness for men's mental health, having overcome his own struggles.

Simms wants to raise as much money as possible to help men struggling with their mental health. Credit: Leonie Roberts Photography

He said: "Anyone who knows me knows I always loved to challenge myself and I thought why not challenge myself more than ever and raise money and awareness for such an important cause which is men's mental health.

"I've had two friends sadly take their own life and I've suffered myself with mental health related problems and I've had family members who have suffered as well.

"There's millions of men around the world who are suffering silently so it's my job now to bring awareness to that and to raise money to help as many different people as I possibly can."

Simms set off from Caldicot Castle yesterday morning (February 24) and hopes to reach the Dutch capital in under two weeks.

He was joined by an escort of motorbikes and quadbikes which guided him on the first leg of his journey.

He said: “My aim is to put a smile back on the faces of people who are struggling. I want to help people out and let them know that there’s a different way to battle through the tough times.

Simms was joined by an escort of motorbikes and quadbikes which guided him on the first leg of his journey. Credit: Leonie Roberts Photography

“Too many people have thoughts trapped inside them, and some don’t make it past those thoughts.

“I want to promote men’s mental health: men being strong, but men coming together and talking about issues together, becoming stronger together, and understanding more about each other, together.

“I know that there’s help available. Because I’ve been lucky enough to make it, I want to help as many as I can to find a way through those trapped thoughts. If I can be that beacon of strength, that’s what I’ll do.

Worried about mental health?

MIND

Mind is a mental health charity which promotes the views and needs of people with mental health issues.

It provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, and campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

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CALM

CALM, or the Campaign Against Living Miserably, runs a free and confidential helpline and webchat – open from 5pm to midnight every day, for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems.It also supports those bereaved by suicide, through the Support After Suicide Partnership (SASP).

  • Phone their helpline: 0800 585858 (Daily, 5pm to midnight)

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PAPYRUS

For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice you can contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. PAPYRUS aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by breaking down the stigma around suicide and equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.

HOPELINEUK is the charity’s confidential helpline service providing practical advice and support to young people with thoughts of suicide and anyone concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide.

HOPELINEUK is staffed by trained professionals, offering a telephone, text and email service.

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SAMARITANS

Samaritans is an organisation offering confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

  • Phone 116 123 (a free 24 hour helpline)

  • Email: jo@samaritans.org

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YOUNG MINDS

YoungMinds is a resource with information on child and adolescent mental health, but also offers services for parents and professionals.

It is the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people's mental health, and wants to make sure all young people can get the mental health support they need, when they need it

  • YoungMinds Textline - Text YM to 85258

  • Phone Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am - 4pm)

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The Martin Gallier Project

The Martin Gallier Project are a Wirral-based charity dedicated to helping individuals and families across the North West of England.

They were the UK's first Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention charity. The project offers non clinical suicide interventions on the high street, with no barriers to access, waiting list or criteria.

The service is open 7 days a week 9.30am-4.30pm - lines and emails are only monitored during these hours.

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