Mental Health Awareness Month: Hike for a Change

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Boston 25 is marking Mental Health Awareness Month, by focusing on local programs that are helping people in our area.

We begin with Hike for a Change: a month-long initiative organized by a North Andover family to increase discussion around mental health and honor the memory of their son.

“Ty was just an amazing person. He loved being outside,” said Josh Moughan, talking about his son. Josh and Liz Moughan organized Hike for a Change after losing Ty to suicide at the age of 18 last summer.

“He had struggled with depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation for close to ten years,” Josh told Boston 25 News. But he said Ty often felt his best, on a hike. It was something the family enjoyed together, and it’s something Josh says he turned to in the earliest days of his grief.

“When you have that weight on your shoulders, it comes. You can feel it getting lifted off,” Josh said.

The family says Ty loved to help people... so they started the “Dirty Hands Project”. Please make a hyperlink: thedirtyhandsproject.org

“To change the problem, we have to get our hands dirty and we can’t just sit back and say ‘something has to be done’,” Josh said.

“We thought it was important to start an organization to help with awareness and education and really just opening lines of communication for people to start talking about their own struggles or their loved ones’ struggles,” said Liz Moughan, Ty’s mother.

Hike for a Change is the non-profit’s first major fundraiser. One hike at a time over the month, Josh will walk the Bay Circuit Trail, which wraps all the way from Duxbury to Newburyport. Fellow hikers raise money to join the legs of the trip.

Liz says one of the biggest goals of the fundraising is increasing suicide prevention programs. “One of the things we’re looking to pilot is. Getting SOS, which is Signs of Suicide, into schools,” Liz said.

The hike will end along the beach in Plum Island, Ty’s favorite fishing spot, and will be followed by a celebration of life.

“It will be an emotional day,” said Josh Moughan.

“I just hope everybody has Ty on their mind that day and thinks about how important it is to focus on your mental health,” said Liz Moughan.

There are sections of the Bay Circuit Trail in many local communities.

You can join a leg, or donate to the cause here.

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