Climbing mountains for mental health

Connie will begin her hike at 6pm tonight. Supplied images.

Restaurant owner Connie Richards is swapping her apron for hiking gear, when she take on “Hike for Hope” to raise funds for the I am Hope charity.

The charity aims to support young people under 25 with free counselling.

Connie will be hiking up and down Mauao for 24hrs, starting 6pm today through until 6pm Friday.

“I am a massive believer in what Mike King is trying to do so feel it's my way of contributing.”

Connie, who owns Elizabeth Cafe & Larder on Cameron Road, is passionate about helping others experiencing mental health challenges.

She previously experienced the “darkness of depression and anxiety”.

Counselling saved her and she is now training to be a counsellor herself.

“Mental health is close to my heart not only due to the fact that I have experienced it myself but also many people around me have.

“I believe like most that we need to talk about it and action needs to be taken to help people get the help they need. I used a local counsellor - Kaye Milgate and believe that everyone should have the opportunity to see a counsellor.

“Kaye changed my life so much so that I am currently studying to be a counsellor myself. I hope one day I can do what she did for me for someone else.”

The Mount climb is her way of making a difference.

“We love what Mike King, does but we can’t leave it up to him. If I can get some young people free counselling sessions, maybe it means there won’t be another statistic.”

Connie has organised a team to help her, with people walking beside her through the night to support her.

“I am thrilled so many people have come to support me. I’m appreciative of everyone who has made donations, and grateful to Mount Maunganui Surf Life Saving Club for being my base during the event.”

Link for donations.

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