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On The Trail

2015 Disbursement To the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Sets New Record

2015 BBRF Check Presentation 800

At HIKE for Mental Health, we are incredibly honored and humbled to be part the amazing work of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Since we presented our first check in 2012 for about $6,200, the amount has risen each year. The lifetime total is now more than 20 times the amount of that original check. Click here to see the amount of this year’s check and to read the response from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation’s president.


A heart-felt thank you


“Since receiving your funds, we’ve had confirmation of yet another veteran suicide in our community, and this time it is hitting close to home. The young man connected to [a member of Counseling Connections for Change] related, ‘I’ve now had more of my platoon die due to suicide than the actual war.'”


HIKE for Mental Health presents $7,000 to PCTA


On Friday, Leo presented the Pacific Crest Trail Association with a check for $7,000 at their headquarters in Sacramento, CA. Receiving the check for the PCTA were Director of Philanthropy Angie Williamson and Trail Information Specialist Jack Haskel. The distribution brings the 2 year total received by the PCTA to $12,500. Angie expressed her gratitude for the contribution and thanked “all the hikers, sponsors and volunteers at HIKE for Mental Health.”


Veterans Day Walk Funds Presented to Pearland Groups


This week, we completed the distribution of the net proceeds from the Pearland Veterans Day Walk by presenting checks to two local Pearland, TX, organizations. VFW Post 7109 received a total of $2,130 to support their efforts to become a more integral part of the Pearland community. We also presented $1,600 to Dawn Lawless and the team at Counseling Connections for Change to continue their community educations programs.


Army Medical Center Receives Materials from Pearland Veterans Day Walk


From staff at William Beaumont Army Medical Center: Some more packages arrived and I am sending you a photo of active duty staff that I am honored to work with. The ward is a locked unit for inpatient care to provide safety and structure for warriors in behavioral health crisis. All your donations help us to serve them. We would not have those therapeutic books to offer if it was not for you and your volunteers.Thank you so much!


And the winner is….


Who is the winner of our 2015 Top Hiker Gear Package? Thanks to the generosity of Leki, Lightheart Gear, ZPacks, Kelty, Point6, Princeton Tec, and Vasque Shoes, the hiker with the highest fundraising total as of November 30 will receive more than $1,000 of top-name gear. Click to see who won this year’s prize.


Pearland Walk Honors Veterans

JROTC Color guard

Braving the threat of heavy rain. nearly 100 men, women and children came out on November 7 for the 2nd Annual Pearland Veterans Day Walk in Pearland, TX. Officials from the State of Texas, Brazoria County, and the City of Pearland were among those on hand to honor our veterans and raise money for veterans programs. Read more to see who turned out and how much was raised from the event.


2016 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 the popularity of Cheryl Strayer’s “Wild,” more and more people are planning to backpack and thru hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016. If you are one of these hearty souls…


Your 2016 Appalachian Trail Thru Hike – Make It Count


So far, more than 120 Appalachian Trail hikers have raised a total of nearly $50,000 for mental health research, programs to overcome the stigma of mental illness and trail conservancy. With Robert Redford and Nick Nolte taking “A Walk in the Woods” on the big screen, there are sure to be more hikers following the white blazes than ever before. Whether going NoBo, Sobo, flip-flopping or creating their own way to complete the 2,185 mile footpath from Georgia to Maine, these thru hikers who register with HIKE for Mental Health have one thing in common: a desire to do some good for others along the way.


Another Glorious Sunfish Pond Hike!


“I am still basking in the positive energy that came from this hike!” So said one of the hikers days after the 2015 Sunfish Pond HIKE for Mental Heath. More than a dozen hikers joined volunteer hike organizers Pat Horsch and Wendy Summa for last Sunday’s final hike of our 2015 season, and Sunfish Pond in New Jersey was again the setting for a special HIKE for Mental Health experience. On the beautiful sun-filled day, Pat and Wendy welcomed the group and then began the hike from the Kittatinny Visitors Center…

Mental Health News

New Insight About Why Mild Stress Can Trigger Extreme Responses in PTSD and Other Disorders

Vaishali P. Bakshi, Ph.D.

Ever wonder why a car alarm or pop of a firework can go completely un-noticed by one person while sending the next person into a momentary panic? Researchers have uncovered new details about what happens in the brain when a mild source of stress generates an extreme response, disproportionate to the stress. Their findings identify possible targets for new medications to treat the debilitating stress responses that define post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other illnesses.

More info…

A More Expansive View of Brain Circuits that Stop Inappropriate Behaviors

Shih-Chieh Lin, M.D., Ph.D.

Quickly halting an in-progress action that turns out to be inappropriate for a particular time and place relies on a cognitive function known as inhibitory control. In new experiments with rats, researchers have discovered a set of neurons at the base of the brain that are critical for this rapid behavioral stopping, demonstrating that inhibitory control involves a broader network of brain circuits than those previously identified.

More info…

Exercise Treatment of Sleepiness in Depression Linked to Immune System Chemicals


Researchers have come one step closer to understanding the intricate relationship between sleep and depression. In a recent study involving people who suffer from atypical depression, researchers were able to correlate the effect exercise has on reducing hypersomnia to lowering levels of interleukin (IL-1β), an immune system chemical, and reductions in levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports neurons and aids the growth of new ones. While both these factors are generally linked to improved sleep, this new study suggests that in atypically depressed people, high levels of production of these chemicals may be disturbing sleep more than helping.

More info…

Rethinking How We Label Mental Illness


If we waited until a person had a heart attack before addressing heart disease, 1.1 million more people would die each year. Yet that is exactly how we deal with mental illness today, argues Dr. Thomas Insel of the National Institute of Mental Health. He challenges us to rethink how we think and talk about mental illness.

More info…

Groundbreaking Discovery of how Sleep Plays a Role in Mental Illness


Dr. Kai-Florian Storch and his team of researchers suggest that sleep abnormalities are the result of an imbalance of an ultradian rhythm generator that is based on dopamine, contrary to past hypotheses suggesting that sleep abnormalities are a result of circadian rhythm disruption. This finding is groundbreaking in the field of psychopathology, specifically in regard to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

More info…

“Let It Go”


Elsa, the snow queen from the extremely popular Disney film Frozen, sings, “Let it go; Let it go; You’ll never see me cry.” In a study funded partially by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, this ‘let it go’ attitude may not be so easy for people struggling with untreated depression.

More info…

Partnership with Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Grows

Dr. Jeffery Borenstein, president of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, with Leo Walker from HIKE for Mental Health.

Over the past three years, we have contributed nearly $75,000 to the Foundation’s research grants programs. In 2014 alone we disbursed $45,000 to this remarkable organization committed to alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research. Again for 2015, HIKE for Mental Health will dedicate 80% of the money raised through our hikes to alleviating suffering from mental illness, with the largest portion going to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

More info…

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