Andy Howard is hitchhiking to Australia to raise money for suicide prevention charities and challenge stigmas associated with mental health. 

Howard, 28, set off on his Seeking Human Kind project on January 14 carrying just a rucksack and the clothes on his back. 

The Wicklow native, who has already reached Milan, only began planning the journey in November and set out on his trek without any money in his pocket. 

Howard told the Irish Mirror that kind strangers have bought him ferry tickets from the UK to France and train tickets to Paris, Switzerland, and Italy, allowing him to already travel further than he expected. 

He believes it will take 18 months to reach Australia and is aiming to raise £100,000 on his journey, which will be divided between Samaritans Ireland, Samaritans UK, and the Australian charity Beyond Blue. 

Howard, who lost his close friend, Louis Caplis, to suicide in 2018. is also aiming to challenge the stigmas associated with mental health and depression and aims to show people that they can "find a way", even if the odds are against them. 

"I think there is a stigma around it that people don’t suffer from mental health. We need to look after our physical health just as much as our mental health and if I’m able to help out in any way to create more awareness for people to talk and to give people an understanding that there is a lot of help out there and that all they need to do is just look for it," he told the Irish Mirror. 

"A lot of men tend to believe they can deal with it themselves. Everybody struggles, everybody has dark days and I want to make people aware that’s normal and encourage people to talk to each other, a problem shared is a problem halved. Simply talking about stuff helps so much." 

He said he was working in a stable job in a car rental company in England before embarking on the journey but said something wasn't "right". He has since sold most of his possessions and has "literally become homeless" as he attempts to hitchhike his way to Australia

"I’ve just been relying on the kindness of people to help me with a place to put down my head and for some food and travel," he told the Mirror. 

To donate to Howard's Seeking Human Kind - Suicide Prevention campaign or to find out more, click here.