Ross and Dex, Ben A’an
World Mental Health Day falls on the 10th October every year, and in order to raise awareness for and commemorate this educational day, we spoke to Ross Cunningham, bagger of Munros and battler of mental health, about combating these two challenges. Read to the end to watch the full video of our chat with Ross and his loyal dog, Dex.
Munro-bagging is the active pursuit of conquering as many Scottish Munros as possible. Munros are peaks which stand over 3,000 feet, or 914 metres, above sea level. These peaks are named after Sir Hugh Munro, who was the first to survey and catalogue them in 1891.
Over 6,500 people have climbed all 282 of Scotland’s Munros so far. And in the midst of completing this feat, is Ross Cunningham.
Ross (wearing Trespass), Torridon
Hailing from Fife, Ross found a passion for the outdoors, particularly Munro-bagging, after struggling with his mental health just over 2 years ago. Battling with depression, Ross was determined not to give up, striving to do anything in order to boost his mental health.
We sat down with Ross and his Westie, Dex, and they took us through their journey together, detailing how bagging Munros has greatly improved their outlook on life.
“I’ve never had to be stronger to go through something like [depression]… I was in such a low place, I was really just looking for anything to try and get my mind off it, to try and give me a focus.”
“I’ve become so much more active since getting into hiking [and] Munro-bagging. It’s really changed my life.”
Spreading the word, Ross strives to spread the joy as well, by sharing his accomplishments on Instagram and hiking groups on Facebook.
“There are so many benefits to hiking [and] Munro-bagging. One of the things it’s got me back into is photography… A lot of the pictures I have taken of my adventures up the Munros with Dex… [have] encouraged a lot of other people to get into hiking.”
“For people that are going through a difficult time, for me what really helped was getting out hiking. That was good for the endorphins, it gave me more of a focus.
Ross and Dex soak in the Scottish scenery
“But for a lot of people, things like exercise might not work… the biggest thing is to open up about it, to speak about it.”
Ross strongly encourages those in similar situations to speak to close friends, family members…
“But if you feel you can’t do that, reach out. There’s lots of amazing charities that you can speak to that would be more than happy to [help anyone] going through a tough time.”
“Open up about it. Other people can guide you in the right direction.”
Evidently, bagging Munros is a great way to get your mental health in the bag, too.
If you yourself are struggling with mental health, or know someone that might be, you can find help, support and more information at the following links:
- NHS Mental Health Services – information about services available to those in need of mental health help and support
- NHS Moodzone – great for tips, recognising symptoms and answering any FAQs
Shop the products Ross picks out below.
- The Tolsford Waterproof Jacket in Red
- The Cashing T-Shirt
- The Tableypipe Fleece Hoodie in Black Marl
- The Maynard Softshell Jacket in Olive Marl
- The Boomer Dog Fleece
Ross (wearing Trespass) and his loyal dog, Dex
Written by: Natalie Green