The actor — who portrays Darren Osborne in the Channel 4 soap — is taking on the challenge of an Ultramarathon — a 50km run — with friend Jay Parlane in an effort to raise money for Galaxy House, which is a children’s and adolescent mental health inpatient unit at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Ashley decided to do so after the reception he received to Darren’s ongoing depression storyline.
Viewers will know that Darren has been battling depression for months, and considered taking his own life, before he decided to open up to partner Mandy Richardson (Sarah Jayne Dunn).
Ashley said: ‘What Darren has been going through has been awful – I can’t even imagine what that would be like for someone of a younger age.
‘Learning about mental health more through Darren has really made me start to realise that we just don’t talk about this enough. Mental health should be something we’re openly discussing from an early age.
‘People still get funny about words like ‘counselling’, ‘mental health’ and ‘depression’.
‘If something goes wrong with your car you get it sorted because you know something dangerous might happen later on if you don’t. But for some reason we don’t have that same attitude when it comes to our minds.
‘I’ve been overwhelmed by the people who have contacted me since Darren’s depression storyline started.
‘Even people who don’t watch the show much have contacted me to say they have connected with it and opened up to me. And people I’ve known for years have told me things which I had no idea about. It obviously resonates with a lot of people.
‘Everyone is going through a particularly hard time right now. So now more than ever it’s important that we look at the issue and how we can all get better education around mental health issues.
‘I honestly believe that means this should start in schools. Normalise it while we’re young and we will grow up knowing it’s perfectly fine to seek help.
“I know for some there is this old school belief that you have to ‘be tough’ but that just makes people think this sort of thing is abnormal. It’s not. And it’s okay to not be okay.’
Ashley is a patron of Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity and last year he took part in a daredevil challenge: Humphrey’s Heroes Abseil.
Now, he’s fundraising for Galaxy House, which is a 12-bed inpatient unit for children and adolescents.
He continued: ;I’ve been asked before to take part in a marathon before but the thought of all that training and running made me feel sick and just sounded horrendous.
‘Since the lockdown I’ve found that running has helped me clear my mind when days have been hard and given me the clarity of mind to focus my passion and energy in the right direction.
‘I wanted to do something to help raise more awareness for mental health and of course support the incredible Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
The Hollyoaks star will be doing the Ultramarathon run with his friend Jay Parlane on Saturday, 4th July in an effort to tie in with the NHS birthday weekend, as the 5th of July marks 72 years of the NHS.
The pair have set up a JustGiving Page, which you can find here, and they’re aiming to raise £7,200 to tie the event with the 72nd birthday theme.
Hollyoaks continues Monday 6 July at 7pm on E4. Hollyoaks Favourites resumes Wednesday at 7pm on E4, and find out which classic instalments are on offer this week here.
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