ADVENTURER Alex Staniforth is urging young people to speak out about their mental health issues, tell someone they trust and seek help.
His advice follows the completion of an epic 72-day, 5,000 mile challenge – #ClimbtheUK, which involved him climbing the highest points in all of the UK’s 100 counties, culminating at the top of Moel Famau, Flintshire, to raise awareness of young people’s mental health.
His efforts also raised more than £22,000 for the mental health charity YoungMinds.
The adventure, which saw Alex, 22, travelling more than 5,000 miles on foot, by bike and in a kayak, stretched his limits physically and mentally.
But pushing his limits is now second nature to Alex, who is also an ambassador for the Youth Hostels Association.
He has twice tried to climb Everest, only to be thwarted by avalanches, the second of which, in the Nepalese earthquake two years, ago, killed three of his Sherpa colleagues.
He’s also battled mental health issues since he was a boy.
“This latest adventure was my new Everest,” he said.
Alex, from Chester, was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was nine and has also had to overcome a bad stammer, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, low self-confidence, bullying and low self-esteem and eating disorders which the condition triggered.
He said: “Mental illness is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with – far more difficult than climbing Everest. Everyone has their own mountain to climb and my big message over the last few months has been that if you’re suffering from mental health issues, please speak out, tell someone you trust, visit the Young Minds website and seek help – it’s not a sign of weakness. Talking about it is a sign of strength.”
YHA (England and Wales) provided Alex with accommodation at youth hostels throughout the challenge.