On August 1, 2010, Michael Schratter, a Vancouver teacher who lives with bipolar disorder, began a solo cycling trip around the world.
Over the next year and a half, he would cross six continents, 33 countries, and travel a distance of over 40,000 kilometres. His journey, which became known as “Ride Don’t Hide,” raised over $100,000 dollars for CMHA BC while bringing global attention to the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Building on Michael’s momentum, Ride Don’t Hide has since become a national movement for mental health. In 2012, CMHA BC launched Ride Don’t Hide community bike rides that drew around 500 participants. Over the next four years, the event would expand across the country, drawing thousands and raising close to $4 million for CMHA’s mental health programs and services in local communities.
As the founder of Ride Don’t Hide, Michael reflects on the enormous progress that the movement has made in just a few years.
“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined Ride Don’t Hide would be what it is today. To see 7,000 people come out and ride, and show each other there’s nothing to be stigmatized about,” says Michael.
For Michael, the stigma surrounding mental illness can be even more damaging than the illness itself. Fear of judgment can, for instance, prevent people from accessing the help they need: although 1 in 5 Canadians live with a mental illness at any given time, only 1/3 of those who need mental health services will actually receive them.
This stigma, he says, is reduced when people are able to come together and talk about what they’re going through.
“Ride Don’t Hide for me was about finding the courage and realizing the obligation for me and other people who are dealing with mental health challenges to come forth and say: it’s okay.”
Support Michael’s efforts to end the stigma around mental illness. Find a Ride Don’t Hide event near you at ridedonthide.com.