Meet Bryan Smith, our 2023 Supporter of the Year winner
“Bryan, fondly known as "The Walking Man from Bristol," has dedicated his life to making a profound impact on mental health awareness and support. His journey has been nothing short of inspiring, and his unwavering commitment to the cause deserves recognition and applause.”
- Bhavika Jadav, Bristol Rethink Mental Illness services - Bhavika Jadav, Bristol Rethink Mental Illness services
Bryan has been fighting his own mental health battles from a young age; his personal experiences have fuelled his unrelenting passion for mental health advocacy and he has dedicated his life to making a difference. He has been diagnosed with depressive psychosis and PTSD.
Bryan found Bristol Rethink Mental Illness services in 2022. He has owed his most recent improvements in his recovery to the support group, which he says helps to balance him out after his diagnoses and “is the best recovery I can get”. This year he walked 200 miles from Newquay to Minehead over 15 days, raising almost £1080 for Rethink Mental Illness. In March 2024 he will be doing a tandem jump, and the following September he will embark on a 192-mile hike spanning three national parks, climbing England's highest peak, Scafell Pike, all for the charity. Bryan collaborates with his registered GP, motivating those battling mental health issues to lead healthier lives. He educates students at his son's school about mental health and early signs of bullying. Bryan is also writing a book, 'The Hardest Walk,' sharing his journey and struggles with mental health, with all proceeds earmarked for Rethink Mental Illness.
Despite his struggles, Bryan continues to evolve. He has transitioned from antidepressants to anti-psychotic medication, undergoes regular check-ups, and has overcome challenges like alcohol abuse and suicidal thoughts. His resilience is a testament to his dedication to mental health improvement.