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B.C. man cycling across Canada to raise awareness for mental illness

After biking through Asia more than a month ago, Ryan Phillips embarked on a Canadian cross-country cycling journey on Sunday. Submitted

For a B.C. man, a grueling cross-country journey has just begun.

On Sunday at the Mile 0 monument in Victoria, Ryan Phillips began his trek across Canada in hopes of raising awareness for mental illnesses.

Phillips has his own mental health struggles, having been diagnosed with bipolar one disorder five years ago.

READ MORE: B.C. man stops in Saint John on cross-country walk to bring awareness to murdered Indigenous women

“I think that one of the most humbling things I’ve ever had to do was reach out for help and it’s been amazing,” Phillips said while cycling through the Okanagan on Wednesday.

“The support that I’ve had has just been insurmountable.”

More than a month ago, the former professional hockey player trekked across Asia for the same cause. He has a goal of biking around the world and is calling his journey ‘Spin the Globe.’

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Not only does Phillips ride for people affected by mental health illnesses, but also his daughter, who has a variety of illnesses, from schizophrenia to mania to depression and has been admitted to the psychiatric ward more than a dozen times.

“Every pedal that I do along this journey, I’m thinking about her,” said Phillips.

“It’s taken a lot of deep inner work to be able to cope with that and realize that she’s suffering and needs help and so many other people are as well.”

READ MORE: 9 million steps: A cross-Canada journey for children’s mental health

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A videographer is documenting the ride every step of the way, hoping to produce a film that tells Phillips’ story while advocating and combating the stigmas that surround mental health.

Phillips expects that the cross-country ride will be complete by the end of July.

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