Michael Schratter had been biking around the world to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness for more than a year.
He’s almost back to his starting point in Vancouver but he’s looking forward to his stop in his hometown of Vernon on Thursday.
The Ride Don’t Hide project took Schratter, a Vancouver elementary school teacher who has bipolar disorder, 40,000 kilometres across six continents and 30 countries. His hope is to raise $100,000 for youth mental health programs in B.C.
“We are hoping Vernon will strongly support this campaign and set the bar for the remaining cities on this final leg of Michael’s journey. We need to dispel the myths and remove the stigma that surrounds mental illness and prevents individuals from seeking early treatment,” said Sandy Rysen, executive director of the Vernon branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association,.
“We are very grateful to people like Michael who will speak out about their illness. This assists tremendously in shining the light on stigma and drawing attention and awareness to mental illness. Mental illness is just that — an illness. We openly discuss our physical aches and pains. There is treatment and there should not be an shame or secrecy attached to seeking it.”
One in five Canadians personally deals with a mental health issue.
Of those, only one-third seek treatment due to the stigma surrounding mental illness.
The Canadian Mental Health Association invites the community to support Schratter when he stops in Vernon Thursday at 5 p.m. at the branch office at 3100-28 Avenue. There will be a barbecue and dessert available by donation with proceeds to the Ride Don’t Hide campaign.
Anyone who wishes to do so can join Schratter at Okanagan College at 4 p.m. to ride with him to the CMHA building.
Donations to the campaign will be accepted at CMHA and tax receipts are available.
Online donations are accepted at www.ridedonthide.com, which features stories and photos of Schratter’s journey.