Former Scotland rugby star Scott Hastings is urging fans to sign up for a charity campaign to keep people active and improve their mental wellbeing after helping his wife in her long-running battle with depression.
Jenny Hastings has previously spoken out about her struggles with mental illness and sparked fears over her safety in March after disappearing for more than 36 hours without contact.
Mrs Hastings, 53, had also previously admitted to attempting to take her own life in 2014 but was saved by husband Scott, 52.
The couple are now backing the 100 Streets Challenge in partnership with Support in Mind Scotland, encouraging people to walk, run or cycle a hundred streets in the hundred days leading up to World Mental Health Day on 10 October.
Hastings, who earned 65 international caps for Scotland as well as two for the British and Irish Lions, said mental health was “every bit as important” as physical health.
He added: “In my mind, Jenny’s mental illness is no different from a knee injury. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
“There was a time when mental illness had this horrible stigma, recently even in the last 15 to 20 years. But now those barriers are being broken down.
“If anything good has come of this, it’s that people are now talking. They’re showing that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
“The 100 Streets Challenge is a simple concept and is open to people of any fitness level.
“We completed the challenge last year and such was the success, we have a new route planned for this year.
“Exercise has played a big part in Jenny’s recovery and often there are enormous benefits to be had from getting your trainers on and getting out into the fresh air.”
Recent figures released by the charity showed that one in four people living in Scotland will experience a mental health issue each year, while one in a hundred will be diagnosed with a serious mental illness.
MRs Hastings, a former triathlete and swimming coach, has struggled with depression for more than 20 years.
Speaking of the events of March for the first time, she revealed she “lost control” but believes helping others has allowed her to cope better with the condition.
She said: “It’s awful to even think about that now, but the reality is I just wanted to get away, I wanted to be on my own.
“At that point I really felt that I was not part of anyone’s life – I didn’t believe anyone wanted me around.
“I was just walking around, completely lost in my thoughts. I wasn’t even sure where I was, where I was going. I was freezing and I ended up being treated for exposure.
“Now I’m in a good place. It’s quite amazing how many people will just stop you in the street and ask ‘How are you?’.
“It’s important that we’re here, that we’re making a difference by trying to show people that when you do struggle it’s not the end of the world.”
The 100 Streets Challenge runs from 4 July to 10 October.
The campaign aims to raise awareness, raise funds and promote good physical and mental health.
Participants can sign up to the challenge for free online at www.100streetschallenge.com.