On the Trail

HIKE for Mental Health collects books for vets in TX


Building on the success of our Veterans Day Walk for PTSD Awareness in Pearland, TX, HIKE for Mental Health is partnering with Operation Paperback on another local Texas event. Operation Paperback is a non-profit that collects gently used books for American troops overseas as well as for veterans and military families here at home. Operation Paperback volunteers have shipped more than 1.9 million books to locations around the globe. More than 5,000 books have been collected in Pearland and Friendswood since 2012.

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Texas Walk for PTSD Awareness Raises $5,400 for Veterans

VA staff receive HFMH donations

HIKE for Mental Health is proud to award more than $5,400 to Texas veterans groups from its 2014 Veterans Day Walk for PTSD Awareness in Pearland, TX. We presented more than $2,400 in workbooks and treatment materials to the William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, and we awarded $3,000 to Pearland VFW Post 7109 to increase services.

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And the 2014 Winner Is…

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—A West Michigan man is planning a five-month wilderness trek from Mexico to Canada in an effort to honor his late brother and raise money for those suffering from mental illness.

“In 2012 I lost my little brother Logan in a car accident. Ever since that moment I have been searching for something constructive to pull out of this tragedy.” This year’s top fundraising hiker – and winner of the Paramount Sleep queen mattress set, will hike the PCT in 2015 for a reason that will warm your heart for the holidays.

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Illinois hike raises $1,200


On October 11, volunteer hike organizer Josh McLaughlin led our first-ever HIKE for Mental Health in Illinois. Along with his Matthiessen State Park hikers and all their supporters, he raised $1,200 for mental health research and trail preservation with his Matthiessen State Park hike.

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Hooray for Sunfish Pond Hikers

Susan signing her books for one lucky hiker.

On a clear autumn day, 17 hikers came from as far away as Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and North Carolina to hike with Susan “jackrabbit” Letcher. As usual, Susan hiked barefoot and paused to read a passage from Southbound on a rest break near the pond. The hike, however, was not a revisiting of the past but a celebration of a glorious fall day, a great HIKE for Mental Health, a time to meet new friends in a gorgeous, natural setting, and a statement that we will overcome the stigma associated with mental illness.

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Colorado Springs Rocks Red Rock Hike


More than 30 hikers, some as young as 2 years old, came out for the first annual Red Rocks HIKE for Mental Health near Colorado Springs, CO, last weekend. And before the hike was even over, co-organizer Dixie Snyder texted us, “Sign us up for next year! Our people want to do it again! Amazing time! …Next year we all agreed that we’re going to wait till Casey (“Aquaman” Owen) gets back to do the hike again. So October, I’ll make sure to bring hot chocolate…. Casey did a great job! This was a great, fun, easy-going experience that wouldn’t of happen without him & all of your support! Thank you!

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Photos from Bear Mountain Hike to Oktoberfest 2014


What a fantastic time on this year’s Bear Mountain hike!. It was a great day for hiking, with beautiful panoramic views of the Hudson Valley. Some hikers brought attention to the event by dying their hair orange and punking themselves out on the trail. And at the end of the hike, there was the Oktoberfest celebration, where HIKE for Mental Health led the dance floor, joined by some AT SOBO hikers and others at the celebration. And of course there was Doug in his full Bavarian outfit, complete with lederhosen.

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2015 PCT Thru Hikers Can Register Now


Rugged. Breathtaking. Grueling. Magical. These are the words many Pacific Crest Trail thru hikers use to describe their experiences of the 2,600+ mile National Scenic Trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada. With Cheryl Strayer’s “Wild” hitting theaters, more and more people are planning to backpack and thru hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2015. If you are one of these hearty souls…

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HIKE for Mental Health comes to Illinois


“I am an avid hiker, and I love the trails and scenery at Matthiessen State Park,” says hike organizer Josh McLaughlin. His October 11 hike in the Dells area of Matthiessen State Park makes Illinois the latest state in our Fourteen in ’14 program. Josh is the nephew of HIKE for Mental Health Director of Hiker Registration Diana Pease, and he credits her for his inspiration. This hike includes amazing waterfalls, sandstone canyons, and lush forest. Join us!

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Thin Mint Summits!

Thin Mint Summits!

The entire HIKE for Mental Health family congratulates Glenn “Thin Mint” Gordon. Today he summited Katahdin, completing his 2014 Appalachian Trail thru hike. We saw him off at AT Kick-off in Georgia in March, and now he has completed his 2,000+ mile journey. We are honored that Glenn included HIKE for Mental Health as part of his adventure. He raised more than $1,500 to alleviate the suffering of mental illness and preserve hiking trails. Thank you, Glenn, and congratulations!

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Colorado Joins 14 in ’14 Program with Red Rocks Hike


Colorado becomes joins the 14 in ’14 program, thanks to 2013 Appalachian Trail thru hiker and volunteer hike organizer Casey Owen. He and Dixie Snyder from IREM’s Young Professionals Group will lead a day hike at Red Rock Canyon near Colorado Springs, CO, on September 20.

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A Queen Mattress Set, Delivered to our Top Fundraiser

A Queen Mattress Set to our Top Fundraiser

You just finished your five- or ten- or 2,000-mile hike. You drop your pack and slump into a chair for your celebratory meal. And after you have gorged yourself to replenish the calories you lost on the trail, all you want is to lie down and sleep. Thanks to Paramount Sleep and HIKE for Mental Health, you could be sleeping on one of the most comfortable mattresses in the world…

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Pole Steeple Post-Hike Update


Volunteer hike organizer Neil Brennan led our first HIKE for Mental Health to Pole Steeple last weekend. The hike raised $320 for HIKE For Mental Health and introduced some of the group to the beauty of a stretch of the AT and the great view from atop Pole Steeple.

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Soul Sista’s Stitch Creations Crafts A Donation


A big shout-out to Jess at Soul Sista’s Stitch Creations. She just donated $5 for every $25 sale she made in the month of March! If you need something colorful to brighten your day, or someone else’s, click on over to her page. In addition to her standard designs, she also does custom work. I guarantee they will all put a smile on your face. Thank you, Jess, for your support of HIKE for Mental Heath.

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Lake Shore Trail Photo Album

Joanna Davis and the Lake Shore Trail Hikers, March 2014

“Such beautiful smiling and laughing faces. Happy wagging tails of our dogs. (And some of us humans!) Such a perfect day, for all! I will do a HIKE for Mental Health hike again!!” So says volunteer hike organizer Joanna Davis about her hike on Lake Norman in March. To hear more about the hike and how much they raised…

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Placerita Canyon Hike Puts California on the Map


Laura Skorich’s hike along a shady creek through oak and chaparral woodland between the tall granite walls of Placerita Canyon makes California the ninth state to join our 14 in ’14 program. Only five more states are needed to get to hikes in fourteen states in 2014. Minutes from Santa Clarita, the Placerita Canyon Hike will offer an easy walk for families or beginners and a more challenging round-trip hike for those who want to get their heart rate going.

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Experience the Two Best Vistas on the Pennsylvania AT

Stunning views from the Pinnacle

To hike for a cause that hits so close to home, for we all know someone affected by a mental illness, is the least I can do.” So says volunteer hike organizer Amy Knopf who will lead our April 26 loop hike to Pulpit Rock and The Pinnacle, only an hour from Philadelphia and widely regarded as the two best vistas on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania.

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Maryland Is Onboard With HIKE for Mental Health!

“1 out of 4 families suffer from some form of mental health issues, and we all know someone who has issues even though we may not know we know.” So says volunteer hike organizer Earlene Sorrells, whose Maryland Height Hike makes Maryland the eighth state to join our “14 in ’14” program. Check out the amazing hike she has planned…

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Tennessee joins HIKE for Mental Health

140 foot Virgin Falls

We are excited to announce our first HIKE for Mental Health in Tennessee. Dramatic waterfalls and caves… Breath-taking deep woods landscapes… These are just a few of the attractions on the Virgin Falls Trail near Sparta, TN. Please join us in this amazingly beautiful area to celebrate Nature, life, and good mental health.

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HIKE for Mental Health compared to Komen for the Cure


Joanna Davis’s Lake Shore Trail Hike made the front page of the Statesville, NC, newspaper. The article compares what HIKE for Mental Health is trying to do with the stigma surrounding mental illness to the way Komen for the Cure de-stigmatized breast cancer and in so doing helped to spur better understand and accelerate research for treatment.

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Please Welcome Ashley Jones to HIKE for Mental Health

Ashley Jones

Meet our newest volunteer and member of the HIKE for Mental Health, Ashley Jones. Ashley will re-publish the latest in mental health research news each week on our website. “I am joining Hike for Mental Health is because I understand the struggle and want everyone to know there is absolutely no shame in seeking help to overcome the issues we may face. Together we can help one another instead of working against one another.”

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AT, PCT, CDT – 2014 Thru-hikers, Come On Down!


We want to thank all AT, PCT, and CDT thru-hikers who made HIKE for Mental Health part of their adventures. Last year’s hikers had a well-above-average 35% completion rate. As the class of 2014 starts checking gear, it’s time to ask for your help this year.

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Join us for the Bear Mountain Oktoberfest Hike


Dramatic 360 degree views of the Hudson River Valley and Bear Mountain Bridge, aflame with autumn colors. An amazing climb on hand-hewn granite steps. A walk along what many believe is the best section of the Appalachian Trail in the tri-state area. Brats, sauerkraut, alp-horns, polka music, and more at the end… These are just a few of the attractions of the three-hour Bear Mountain Oktoberfest hike near Highland Falls, NY, on September 21.

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Mental Health News

Laughing Gas Studied as a Secondary Treatment for Depression

Psychiatrists Charles R. Conway, MD, (from left) and Charles F. Zorumski, MD, worked with anesthesiologist Peter Nagele, MD, on a small, pilot study in which nitrous oxide was given to patients with treatment-resistant depression. The team plans further research based on results suggesting that the gas may be a possible treatment for depression.

Principal investigator Dr. Peter Nagele said, “It’s kind of surprising that no one ever thought about using a drug that makes people laugh as a treatment for patients whose main symptom is that they’re so very sad.” Dr. Nagele and his team of researchers have recently found that nitrous oxide offered many patients with treatment-resistant depression relatively immediate and sustained relief from symptoms.

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Children with Autism Have Excess of Synapses in Brain

(Left) Excess synapses in the brain of a child with autism (Right) Properly pruned synapses of a developmentally typical child. Credit: Guomei Tang/Mark S. Sonders/Columbia University Medical Center

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center find that children with autism have a slower pruning process, leading to an excess of synapses in the brain. This discovery explains some characteristics common of the disorder, including oversensitivity to stimuli.

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Group Nature Walks Linked to Improved Mental Health

Nature Walk

It is advice we have all heard before: the more time we spend outdoors, the better we will feel. Now there is scientific evidence for this advice. Researchers found that engaging in group nature walks significantly lowered the severity of depression and reduced stress in participants.

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