3 Dads mental health campaign reaches Parliament after 300 mile trek across the UK

  • Mike, Andy and Tim walked 300 miles to raise money for PAPYRUS and awareness for suicide prevention 
  • The next step of their campaign is to get better mental health included in he national curriculum
  • Dads have raised nearly £1,000,000 for PAPYRUS and have planned another walk for 2022 between the UK Parliaments 

Three dads who last year walked 324 miles for suicide awareness are campaigning to get mental health and suicide prevention included on the national curriculum. 

3 Dads Walking is a group of three fathers who all met through grieving similar circumstances. 

Mike’s daughter Beth, Tim’s daughter Emily, and Andy’s daughter Sophie all passed away through suicide. The fathers were brought into contact with each other through mutual loss.

Shortly after his first meeting with Andy, Mike mentioned the idea of a walk to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS.

Within a few days, Mike received several maps in the mail to help with the route

Each dad planned their respective route in their local area and despite the chance of it a logistical nightmare, Mike says that each route came together “as if it was meant to be”.

Their 300-mile route was complicated bvy geography: Andy lives near Penrith in Cumbria, Mike lives in Manchester, and Tim lives near Kings Lynn in Norfolk. On 9 October last year they set off from Morland on their 15-day walk.

The dads were not only walking to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention, but campaigning for the national curriculum to include more topics surrounding mental health and suicide prevention. 

Along the way they were joined by people at every part of the walk and were rarely alone. Many of whom had also lost someone close to them due to suicide.

Mike spoke to the Northern Quota about their journey and their campaign heading to Parliament.

“People came with the most heart-breaking stories … being affected by suicide in so many different ways, but they came to find us,” he said.

“I think the reason people wanted to come is because we were talking openly about something that is so affected by stigma.

“We’re not wise men or trained councillors, we’re not qualified, we’re just in the same boat.”

Mike’s daughter Beth died in 2020 at the age of 17. He said she was a passionate and creative person and was training to become a vocal artist at college, having signed to a record label.

Her song Pixel Screens went top of the chart after her death and is available on all platforms.

Beth Palmer was training in college and had just signed to a record label

Mike said: “You never move on from it. You move with it. But being able to move with it, if you talk about it, it helps.

“A lot of these people feel alone, and don’t feel like they can talk, and with us they did and it’s an honour.

“Open and supportive conversation will save lives.

“I’m so proud to know these guys. They stood beside me, and they’ve never took a step back.”

After 15 days and 300 miles later the walk was complete but the challenge was not over. 

Four days after the final leg of the walk, the dads wrote a letter to Boris Johnson,to discuss their wishes for change 

In February they met with health minister Gillian Keegan to discuss their campaign for changes to national curriculum. They were positive about the meeting and are hopeful there will be change as a result. 

Although there is pastoral support set up in many schools without the right framework many students don’t know how to effectively reach out. 

Mike thinks their campaign will make all the difference for students not knowing where to turn when they need help. 

He said: “Everyone should know, without having to look too far, where to go and what to do.”

Mike Palmer and his daughter Beth

The dads have announced another walk for 2022 across the UK, hoping to take their campaign further and raising more awareness and money. 

Peter Holland from PAPYRUS told NQ: “What the three dads have done is facilitated getting the name of papyrus out there to many millions more people who would not have heard about us otherwise.

“If that then enables people to have awkward but essential conversations with the young people in their family then you know that is that is fantastic”.

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