IT’S said that every mountain is climbed one step at a time.
Martin Leonard from Woodview Park in Limerick is a great believer in that philosophy and also a believer in the idea that trekking up mountains is good for mental health.
Which is why he has started the ‘Mountain a Month for Mental Health’ movement.
“I’ve been trekking up mountains for years and I found that people talk to each other about things that they would never talk about if you met them in the pub.
“There’s something about climbing a mountain, whether it’s the endorphins or the fact that you’re too bloody tired at the end of it to worry about anything,” Martin told the Limerick Post.
Having suffered with anxiety, Martin discovered the pleasure and challenge of trekking is a big help.
A father of twin four-year old girls, he says, jokingly, that “there’s enough stress right there”.
The idea is that the group will take on one peak a month, culminating in a climb of Carrauntoohil, the tallest peak in Ireland.
“We’re starting with a hike up Moyluffa in Killaloe on April 20 and that’s a relatively easy hike and we’ll build from there,” said Martin.
The movement is a free one and Martin has set up a Go Fund Me page to raise the cash needed for people to take part.
Limerick company, Act 3 Psychology is also involved and they will be coming on each trek and running mental health workshops in conjunction with each climb.
“We need to take the stigma out of talking about mental health. I’m Limerick born and bred and I love the place but we have a problem with mental health and talking about it. I want this to be for all the people of Limerick,” said Martin.
Already, more than 50 people have signed up for the adventure. “One of the things we encourage people to do at the start of the climb is to pick up a stone and concentrate on putting all their worries into that stone, then to leave it at the top of the mountain.
“If people are climbing with a partner or a loved one, we say, hand the stone over to them and let them carry that stone for you”.
The Go Fund Me page and any funds coming from it is being looked after by Martin’s sister, Rachael Leonard, who is an accountant.
“Any funds we get in will be to pay for the treks and hopefully, to go into a fund for next year’s breaks,” said Martin.
Also helping on the journey are Martin’s brother, Michael, who is one of the guides; Alan O’ Shaughnessy who is another guide and Eoin O’Sullivan, who is a friend and an enthusiastic backer of the project.
A basic level of fitness is good for anyone who wants to join in but, Martin promises “no-one will be left behind”.
For more information or to sign up for the trek, go to the ‘Mountain a Month for Mental Health’ Facebook page or email Martin on mountains4mentalhealth.
The link for the Go Fund me page is: https://www.gofundme.com/mountain-a-month-for-mental-health