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No need to hide: Largest mental health ride comes to Prince George in June

The Ride Don't Hide event by the CMHA is held in 25 communities nationally
(via Canadian Mental Health Association National/Instagram)

It's still a topic that many shy away from.

One in five Canadians has a mental illness in any given year, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), while five in five Canadians have mental health. 

Two-thirds of those with mental health issues do not get the help they deserve which is largely due to stigma. 

On June 23, Prince George will be one of more than 25 communities across Canada participating in "Ride Don't Hide."

The ride enters its eighth annual event, with each year raising more than $2 million with almost 10,000 riders. 

For 2019, money raised will go to the Connections Clubhouse. 

Back in August, the clubhouse was burned down accidentally on Norwood Street, leaving the CMHA-Prince George branch with no space to meet or do work out of. 

The clubhouse is a staff supported, member-driven program that helps the recovery process and engagement of those who use it. 

Referrals are not needed for anyone to stop by and feel welcome at the house with supports around them. 

“Ride Don’t Hide is an opportunity to come together as a community and say mental health is important to me, and it’s ok to talk about, in fact we must talk about it.” Maureen Davis, Executive Director of CMHA-Prince George Branch says. “We are so thankful for the support from the community, and those who have shared their personal experiences of why mental health is important to them. It is wonderful to see return riders and their families coming out to ride”

Event spokesperson for this year is Brooklyn Derksen. 

Her father told her he was going to bike 50 km and raise money for mental health. 

"What started as a loving gesture quickly turned into an annual movement as this event gives me personally, my family and friends (directly or indirectly affected by mental/emotional health) the opportunity to speak up, share or simply SHOW their support for Mental Health Awareness," Derksen says. 

The Ride Don't Hide movement started with a Vancouver school teacher named Michael Schratter who lives with bipolar disorder. 

He spent almost a year-and-a-half cycling 40,000 km around the world and took only his bike, a bag with a message of inspiration from his story. 

Schratter ended up raising $100,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association. 

The event is open to any skill level and all ages with four distances to ride: six kilometres, 15 km, 30 km, and 50 km. 

Registration is $45 until June 1, After June 1, $50 and the day of will be $60; you can ride alone, with family or in teams.

There will be no cost for children 23 and under as well as virtual riders.