AN Edinburgh businessman once crippled by depression is saddling up to raise awareness about the illness by cycling 400 miles to London.
Stuart Potter, 35, who works for mobile technology firm Veecom Systems, will deliver a presentation to 4Networking members at the Premier Inn in Leith before setting off on his gruelling charity cycle on Tuesday, June 19.
During his journey he will make three stops to deliver similar presentations with the aim of raising a minimum of £4000 for mental health charity Mind, whilst also breaking the taboo of mental illness and the workplace.
The dad-of-one was only diagnosed with depression last February after suffering in silence with the condition for most of his adult life.
He said: “It was important for me to say loud and publicly that I suffer from depression and, believe me, it is scary and very emotional.
“I have been passionate about cycling all my life. Evidence continually proves that physical exercise can help reduce depression, and as I used it as my coping mechanism, so it seemed a fitting way to support Mind.
“It is really important for me to raise awareness of mental health in the workplace because I know first hand that secrecy and taboo surrounding depression only exacerbates the problem.”
Stuart’s depression manifested itself following a bike accident involving a lorry in 1994. He escaped with minor neck injuries but the mental effects took longer to heal.
He said: “It was my desire to conquer depression to be a better husband and father which prompted my seeking help. I’ve now got a much healthier balance in my life – my wife, Diana, has given me tremendous support.”
A spokesman for Mind said of Stuart’s efforts: “With physical exercise being so hugely beneficial for everyone’s mental health it’s particularly fitting that Stuart is testing his body to its limits to raise vital funds for us. Every penny he raises will help us to continue to provide information and support, as well as campaigning for change.
“It is also tremendous that Stuart will be spreading the message about mental health at work. One in six workers is experiencing mental health problems like stress, anxiety or depression, so it’s essential that more businesses start talking about the costs of neglecting mental health in the workplace.”
For more information and to follow Stuart’s Biggest Journey, visit www.biggestjourney.com or follow @biggestjourney on Twitter.