Bob Hargreaves

Ride, Don’t Hide: and bust the stigma of mental illness in Port Alberni

CMHA’s Bob Hargreaves wants to raise awareness and remove the stigma of mental illness in the Ride Don’t Hide event.

When Bob Hargreaves takes his bicycle out for a ride, he carries with him a memory of a client from the Canadian Mental Health Association who reached out for help.

Hargreaves, executive director at the CHMA Port Alberni office, will participate in the Shoppers Drug Mart ‘Ride Don’t Hide’ on Sunday, June 23 in support of better mental health for women and families.

Hargreaves received a letter, which he has memorized, from a client seeking better housing. The woman was living with agoraphobia and depression, and was living in squalor. She wrote to the CMHA asking to be put on their list for secure subsidized housing.

“She is not going to join us because she died of poor health while on our list,” Hargreaves said.

Her battle is typical of people who have mental illnesses; it’s tough to find decent and secure housing where the rent is not going to constantly rise, he said. “You can’t get well unless you feel stable and safe,” which makes housing so important in treating mental illness.

It is this woman’s story that motivates Hargreaves as he prepares for Ride Don’t Hide.

Hargreaves and the Shoppers Drug Mart on 10th Avenue join 12 other communities in B.C. in promoting this event, inspired by Vancouver schoolteacher Michael Schratter and his 40,000-kilometre trek around the world. Schratter, who lives with bipolar disorder, helped raise $100,000 for CMHA.

Hargreaves and other local cyclists will tackle a 50-kilometre course heading out toward Taylor Arm Provincial Park. There will also be a shorter 3.5-km route for members of the public to join in.

Port Alberni’s event kicks off at 9 a.m. at Shoppers Drug Mart and wraps up at 3 p.m. Come by for a hotdog.

To make a pledge for Hargreaves, find his personal fundraising page at www.ridedonthide.com. Click on “Donate” at the top right then find Port Alberni in the list of communities. Local riders may join Hargreaves by registering on the same website.

editor@albernivalleynews.com