Scots entrepreneur on mental health mission

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In May, award-winning entrepreneur Josh Quigley woke up in hospital after intentionally crashing his car at over 80mph.

At 22 years of age Mr Quigley’s career had begun to take take off: he became the recipient of the Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and his first business, SharkDog - a digital marketing firm - was gaining momentum and clients in its very first year of operations.

Josh Quigley is raising awareness of mental health issues by travelling around the world visiting charities and other countries dressed in a saltire morphsuit and a kilt.  Picture: Alex Hewit

Josh Quigley is raising awareness of mental health issues by travelling around the world visiting charities and other countries dressed in a saltire morphsuit and a kilt. Picture: Alex Hewit

What few knew however, was that bubbling beneath the surface of Mr Quigley’s successful business persona was an intensely personal battle with depression, which culminated with him attempting to take his own life.

Waking up in a hospital bed after his suicide attempt with only minor injuries, the young entrepreneur vowed to use his near-death experience to save people in similar situations.

Mr Quigley of Deans, West Lothian, said: “I really started to believe, in hospital, that I walked away from that crash for a reason, that I wasn’t meant to die that night and that there was some sort of purpose that I still hadn’t achieved on this earth.

“I thought I had to help other people and show others that it can get better”

Josh Quigley, won young entrepreneur of the year 2015 for his social media company Sharkdog.  Picture: Alex Hewit

Josh Quigley, won young entrepreneur of the year 2015 for his social media company Sharkdog. Picture: Alex Hewit

With a renewed vigour for life the brave businessman created the Tartan Explorer project, an endeavor which will take the 23-year-old to 80 countries across the globe as he attempts to raise awareness of mental health issues and eliminate the stigma surrounding them.

Mr Quigley said: “I don’t know where the idea came from but I just thought, why just raise awareness in Scotland?

“I knew I had to do something really incredible and over-the-top that is going to get people to stand up and say ‘wow, what is that guy doing?’”

Taking some time out from SharkDog to plan his epic journey, Mr Quigley has set himself five ‘A-W-A-R-E challenges’:

Josh Quigley is calling himself the Tartan Explorer. Picture: Alex Hewit

Josh Quigley is calling himself the Tartan Explorer. Picture: Alex Hewit

A - Accept or undertake an adrenaline based activity or extreme sport.

W- Work or volunteer in a mental health charity or association.

A - Appear on TV or radio speaking about my challenge and adventure.

R - Reveal my story on a stage at a mental health conference, event or seminar.

E - Exercise or perform a physical challenge at the country’s most iconic landmark or destination in a Scottish Morphsuit.

Not one to leave a task unfinished, Mr Quigley is determined to complete every challenge in all the nations he visits.

He said: “I’m a competitive guy, I don’t think I could leave a country without completing all five challenges.

Mr Quigley aims to fund his trip from sponsorship deals tsecured from Scottish businesses. In addition, he will launch a crowd-funding campaign next year to supplement the aid he receives from the corporate world.

In total, he is aiming to raise £50,000 - £100,000 for his global mental health mission.

“I’m confident I can do it.” Mr Qugley said.

He added; “ Worst case scenario, even I don’t raise the money I’m going anyway.

“If I have to hitchhike around the world and sleep on people’s couches then I’ll do it.

“But the more money I can raise the more good I can do, the early signs have been great. I’ve had so much support.

After completing the Tartan Explorer - which he estimates may take 12 to 18 months - Mr Quigley aims to create a social enterprise to help individuals who are felling alone and trapped by mental illness. To do this the savvy entrepreneur knows he will need additional funds.

He said: “There are two sides to revenue generation for this project.

“Firstly the sponsorship and crowdfunding will enable the round-the-world trip.

“Then after that I’m hoping to have a massive online community and a really strong brand which I’m able to use help me write a book, make a film and take on public speaking appearances.

“This way the Tartan Explorer will generate revenue in its own right and I’ll no longer have to rely on donations.

“I can then start to use my commercial influence to create my own initiatives and programmes that I can run to help people.”

Beyond the Tartan Explorer project Mr Quigley wants to affect real change in the way Scotland treats mental illness.

“ The next six months I will be speaking to legal and health professionals to find out what the current support system is like for those with mental health problems in Scotland. What are we doing well and what are we not doing well?

“Then when I’m in these other countries, especially the ones with low suicide rates, I want to speak to the experts there and find out what they are doing differently and bring that knowledge back home.

“Ultimately I want to work with charities and hopefully with the government at a policy level so we can implement new systems that will do more for those with depression or other mental illnesses.”​

And with his indomitable drive to succeed you wouldn’t bet against him doing just that.