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Man who ‘hit rock bottom’ in lockdown starts hiking group for others with mental health

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A man who ‘hit rock bottom’ during the first lockdown has set up a hiking group to help others improve their mental health, after walking saved him during his darkest moments.

Ste Falvey and Nick Smith set up M.A.D Hikers which stands for mental health, anxiety, and depression, after mountain walks helped Ste improve his own mental health during lockdown last year.

31-year-old Ste who is originally from Rhyl wants to turn his own struggles into a positive to help others and raise awareness of the impact of mental health issues.

He said: “It started with the very first lock down as all you could do was exercise. I hit rock bottom and said I would never take any anti-depressants but it got to the point where I needed them and decided I had to change my life.”

READ MORE: Snowdonia crowned the best national park in the UK

Ste explained that hiking and being outdoors was a ‘cure’ for him and a key part of his recovery from depression, so he wondered if others could benefit from the walks too.

“I fell in love with hiking, it makes you look at life differently. I just want to try to help people and get more people into it.”

Group of hikers from MAD Hikers walking in Snowdonia up a muddy track. Picture date: Friday August 6, 2021
MAD Hikers group walking in Snowdonia
(Image: Ste Falvey)

With the help of social media, Ste was able to organise his first group hike in November 2020. He has since been joined on the summits of Snowdon, Pen Y Fan, and Moel Famau by fellow walkers looking to improve their own mental health.

For those who have felt isolated during lockdown, the hikes are chance to meet new people, breathe in some fresh air, and get a sense of achievement when they reach the summit.

So far, the hikes have seen groups of around 15 people reaching new heights and Ste hopes the group will continue to expand as he plans to become a qualified guide.

“People from across the UK have been getting in touch wanting to join, so it would be great to get as many people involved as possible.

“It’s been difficult over lockdown with travel restrictions so I’m hoping more people can be involved as things start to open up again. Walking has been a lifeline for me so I just want to help as many people as I can.”

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Read More:Man who ‘hit rock bottom’ in lockdown starts hiking group for others with mental health