Q & A with Support in Mind Scotland Ambassador Dane Thomson

Dane is 28 and has suffered severe depression and anxiety bouts on and off for over 8 years. Having actively supported mental health causes for many years, he is going on record for the first time to talk about his own mental health struggles.

Dane is an active ambassador for Support in Mind Scotland and is taking part in The 100 Streets Challenge, which is part of our 1 in 100 Mental Health Awareness and Fundraising Campaign. The aim of this initiative is to encourage people to get active and improve their mental wellbeing by walking, running or cycling 100 streets. Dane has personalised the title, route and approach of his 100 Streets Challenge calling it #ImStillDane with the aim of gathering an ambitious 100 signatures on his t-shirt over walking routes in BOTH Edinburgh and Fife.

How are you feeling today, Dane?

Today I’m feeling not bad overall. I have gone for a short walk to get out of the house! I’ve used the walk as ‘positive Dane thinking time’ to take notes about what I want to do to make a happy future.

How did your Support in Mind Scotland ambassador role come about?

Support in Mind Scotland has been in my life for over four years now. From my humble beginnings as a social media intern, to being involved in ground breaking project ‘Place of Safety’ to becoming a fully-fledged member, I thought it couldn’t get any better … until I was invited to take on an Ambassador role, I was and am very touched and thrilled! When I saw my fellow ambassadors were Scott and Jenny Hastings how could I NOT do it!

What would you say to someone struggling with their mental health right now?

I’d say (and it’s SO much easier said than done): Be kind and patient with yourself. It’s so easy to be unkind and impatient with ourselves during dark times. We as humans for some reason like to kick our own selves when we’re down.  On that note, I’d say when you’re being harsh on yourself, think ‘would I be saying this to my best friend?’ chances are … NO! One of the routes on our journey back to well mental health is being our own best friend. It takes work daily, but it’s worth it.

Despite your positive approach to dealing with your mental health, do you still encounter ‘those days’ which are particularly difficult? if so, how do you tackle them?

When I have ‘those days’ - they are merciless. They zap all my energy. They make me feel worthless, useless and everything in-between. I don’t tackle and win against them all, but how I tackle them is firstly by acknowledging they’ve happened. Secondly, I pluck up the courage (and this is the tough part) to tell my closest friends and family I’m struggling. I then (and again this is a toughie), accept the advice and help they offer, and seek professional help when needed. Support in Mind Scotland’s website is a great first stop – it has so many useful resources at a glance, and it’s not too overwhelming I’ve found.

What was the lightbulb moment for you in taking part in the 100 streets challenge?

I was scrolling through Facebook and saw this post from Support in Mind pop up. I instantly thought ‘oh …that looks fun! I do like to walk …’ So, on my own walk today I started to plan in my mind about the logistics of taking part and how I could make it really special ….

You attended the 100 Streets Challenge Press launch … what was it like meeting Scott and Jenny Hastings?

That day was just phenomenal from start to finish! I was in awe meeting rugby legend, Scott Hastings and so touched and moved by his lovely wife, Jenny’s account of her difficult mental health journey – I think she’s such an inspiration to us all! As it was Scott and Jenny who created and kicked off the 2016 100 streets challenge, I was so pleased when they volunteered to be the first signatures on my t-shirt! I even grabbed a selfie with them and published author, James Dean Divine!

How do you plan to make your #ImStillDane 100 streets challenge special?

What I like about this challenge is the empowering and flexible nature to make it your own! I want to use my challenge to get as many people as possible involved. My challenge will see me walk 100 streets on a planned route between Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife from Monday 10th July to Thursday 20th July. It will focus on having open conversations about mental health, but in a fun way. So 100 conversations about the mental health is the target! I will be wearing my 100 Streets Challenge T-shirt and will be getting as many people possible to sign it as I go. The people signing will be a mixture of passers-by, acquaintances, close friends and family. This approach has been chosen to reflect that mental health affects all us.

In what positive ways has your life changed since becoming an ambassador?

It’s only changed for the better. I’ve been given a platform where I can use my voice to share with others my mental health journey. I consciously opted for a very short career break to recharge my PR batteries and wanted to use it to take part in something meaningful for Support in Mind Scotland, a charity both personally and professionally close to my heart and mind. The message when you’ve been through what I have is this "You must learn to walk again before you can run". I’m doing this and more by taking part in the 100 streets challenge!

  • The #ImStillDane 100 streets challenge gets underway on Monday 10th July. You can follow his journey on our website and social media as well as Dane’s Twitter account @Daneybash88 and make a direct donation to Support in Mind Scotland via his challenge here