A north-east addiction recovery specialist is taking part in a daunting challenge to raise awareness of suicide prevention and mental health.
Gordon Cruden, who is area manager of Teen Challenge North East Scotland, has embarked on the Being Strong challenge – an intense 30-day schedule of one-hour strength workouts in aid of charity.
Mr Cruden is aiming to target 100 strength workouts during the month-long period in different gyms around the UK.
He will use the fundraiser to highlight the plight of people who struggle with mental health issues and feel that suicide is there only option.
This has certainly become more relevant due to the far-reaching consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and the following lockdowns that have isolated people from their support systems.
The challenge also presents an opportunity to raise funds for the work that Teen Challenge carry out in the north-east.
The charity runs two residential facilities, a men’s facility in Fyvie and a women’s refuge near Mintlaw.
Both homes are set in rural Aberdeenshire to encourage those with addictions to recover and rebuild their lives as well as keeping them away from the toxic environment that helped their addiction manifest.
What are Gordon’s expectations?
Mr Cruden explained: “Through this challenge, I hope to get individuals in communities talking about their mental health by engaging in mental health services.
“I think most people, especially men think they can just grim and bear it when it comes to having dark thoughts or mental health issues. My advice is speak to someone.
“The present culture of being silent needs to change to speaking up. I also want to highlight some of the fantastic services across the nation that help people with mental health.”
“Teen Challenge is working on the front-line as it has done for 20 years to help people who are lost and feeling suicidal. We support them through our residential homes that provide a safe environment to begin recovery.
Mr Cruden was due to start the challenge in February but due to gym closures he was unable to do so. While fighting fit at the moment he has suffered, much like everyone else with the consequences of the pandemic.
He said: “There’s a lot of hopelessness right now. During the pandemic, I gained a lot of weight due to my diabetes when I would comfort eat and not being able to get out and exercise regularly.
“It really took its tole so much that I was struggling to sleep each night but since I’ve started this fitness journey it has made me much healthier and now I am to take on this challenge.”