AN ALVA man is stepping up to a new challenge as he strives to raise awareness of and break the stigma surrounding mental health. 

Steven Queen will be taking on the Extreme Stomp in aid of the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), scaling more than 7,400 steps at Murrayfield Stadium. 

The 39-year-old, who lost more than 17 stone in a year, decided on his latest fundraising drive because of his own experiences and a desire to see people to talk more freely about how they are feeling. 

He told the Advertiser: “It resonated with me because I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression in the past because of my weight. 

“I think it’s vitally important because people need to talk about mental health more so they can seek help.

“It’s something that people are often ashamed or embarrassed to talk about. There’s nothing wrong with going and seeking help.”

Steven typically walks between 50 and 70 miles each week and, having recently completed a 57km charity walk for the British Heart Foundation, emphasised the benefits of exercise in fighting off worry and improving his self-esteem. 

“Walking, for me, is the best thing for depression,” he said. “It releases endorphins. You are out in the fresh air and that helps. I still look at every walk as an achievement compared to where I was a few years ago when I could hardly walk at all.”

His journey to better mental and physical health hasn’t been without its setbacks and Steven conceded that the turn of the year was a difficult period in his own life. 

“I had a really bad January,” he said. “I fell off the wagon completely, started eating junk again and I felt rotten. But I gave up the crisps and the chocolate and I feel more positive.”

After racking up the steps while out and about, he is quietly confident about his chances of completing the Extreme Stomp.

He added: “I think it’s going to be no problem. I amazed myself with the 57k walk and I did it in 10 hours. I’m not going to underestimate it but I feel I will complete it no problem.

“I’m a lot more positive than I was. I never suffer from negativity when it comes to that. I’ve always been determined and focused.”

The most important thing for Steven, however, is that people contribute whatever they can to a worthwhile cause as SAMH continue to offer support to people struggling with mental health issues. 

“I’m hoping people can donate,” he said. “It doesn’t need to be a huge amount. If everyone donates a pound that would do.”

If you would like to donate, you can do so here.