A SUCCESSFUL business owner from Paisley is set to take on a mega challenge in the hopes more men will open up about mental health after suffering from his own battles.

Dan Smith, who owns and runs Roasters Cafe on High Street, will embark on a journey with seven other lads to complete an ultra-marathon in the Moroccan Sahara desert in November.

The 27-year-old originally planned on completing the Manchester Marathon earlier this year in honour of a friend who passed away from pancreatic cancer.

The Gazette: Dan Smith, 27, from PaisleyDan Smith, 27, from Paisley (Image: Colin Mearns Herald & Times Group)

The young man wanted to complete the run to help raise cash and awareness for the deadly disease, however, he revealed that his plans to take part in it came to a halt after suffering from his own personal mental health issues.

Dan told The Gazette: "Having my own business at 27, I had my own problems going on and I wouldn't talk to anyone or tell anyone which is the classic guy mentality that we don't speak.

The Gazette: Dan runs and owns popular café Roasters in PaisleyDan runs and owns popular café Roasters in Paisley (Image: Colin Mearns Herald & Times Group)

"That eventually resulted in me pulling out of the marathon because I was so balled with my own stuff.

"It annoyed me that I didn't do it because of what I was going through at the time which I didn't realise was anxiety and pretty severe stress."

He continued to say: "This is the point why I'm running an ultra-marathon. On the surface it looks like I've got everything going for me - I'm young, I've got my own business, I've got 30 members of staff working for me, everything should be perfect.

"However, it isn't, or it wasn't because I had my own stress, anxieties, concerns, and pressures that were going on in my life and rather than talking to people about it I believed there was a shame in that, and I couldn't mention it because it shows weakness."

The Gazette:

Dan, who has been running his popular cafe for almost two years in the town, claimed that not speaking out led him to be pulled away from training and fitness, and led him to going out and drinking alcohol more.

He said: "I just was becoming a bit of a bad version of myself, and I was never proud of that."

The huge challenge ahead for the cafe owner will involve him running 110km over two days in the desert.

The Gazette:

While Dan is still aiming to conquer the ultra-marathon to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer, he also wants to highlight mental health struggles.

Dan said: "The reason why I'm now talking about mental health is that it's the reason why I didn't run for cancer, and it became more prevalent that mental health is a thing."

The keen runner added: "Perhaps by me speaking about mental health I can show people that someone who is successful, young, and has things all young guys my age want, can also feel a bit rubbish and doesn't know how to deal with things.

"Guys don't want to talk about it because it brings shame and shows weakness but then what they don't understand is when they bottle it up it becomes your master.

"Whereas if you talk about it, you become stronger rather than bundling it up through fear of judgement and being weak.

The Gazette:

“It’s taken me a long time and I’m not sitting here preaching to the choir as if I’m fully all good now – I’m absolutely not, I still have days that are a bit crap, but I feel like if I show someone who supposedly has everything going for them can feel like this, anyone can.

Since speaking out about his personal struggles, Dan said he received an outpour of support, saying: "I used to feel shame in it, but I don't anymore.

"I'm more than happy and comfortable to talk about it and I do hope people reach out and say, 'Look I'm feeling this way'. That's what it’s about - guys talking and also if I can raise money for my original cause I'll be even prouder."

The Paisley man is looking forward to the challenge in the desert.

The Gazette:

He revealed training is underway, but he is feeling "pretty nervous" about it.

Dan said: "It's 70 miles and when you start running, five miles is a lot.

"It's a little bit mental and it's quite the challenge but I won't stop until I get it done."

To donate, click HERE.