Busselton resident Grant Halligan knows what its like to live with the black dog and how seeking help from the right person can change your life.
After working in the construction industry for 30 years, Mr Halligan said he understood what it was like to live with mental health issues having experienced a rough road himself.
He said in the early days, the industry had a rough culture where people would drink and smoke, but it was a cover for people.
“A lot of people with mental health issues try to cover it, so they self medicate and it does not work,” he said.
“What you find out – I am two years alcohol free now – you can go to a lot of places and not get help, you have to click with a service or a person.
“Once you find that click, it opens up and makes your pathway easier. I went to a lot of places, was admitted twice and got absolutely nothing out of it.
“Last time I was admitted they put me through drug and alcohol counselling and I clicked with the person I met there, he stayed specifically for the first year to help me, because only one in 10 people will pass.”
Mr Halligan first joined a one-day Black Dog Ride in March and said the experience really hit him hard, so he decided to join the Tasmanian ride.
“A lot of things have happened in my life and after meeting the riders on the one dayer I thought ‘far out,’ there are a lot of mental health organisations and facilities now,” he said.
“When I started looking for help 33 years ago there was not much around, mental health has changed a lot and people are more aware of it.
“In those early days it was very hard.
“When people see all those bikes it registers, when I did the ride to Collie I realised how much of a visual impact the Black Dog Ride had on such a wide audience,” he said.
This year the Black Dog Ride from Busselton to Tasmania will try to raise $200,000 to train people in mental health first aid so they can identify and respond to colleagues who might be in a crisis, keeping them safe from harm.
The campaign, Even Heroes Need a Hand, will award 500 scholarships to support people who are returned servicemen or first responders such as the police, firemen or ambulance drivers.
According to the Black Dog Ride, the incidence of mental health problems is significantly higher among military personnel and first responders and the people most likely to notice a change in a person’s behaviour are their colleagues.
Mr Halligan said training a first respondent to treat a colleague was important because they understood the situation they had experienced.
“They are better equipped to talk to their mates instead of having an outside person coming in, an outside person would not know what a returned serviceman or a fireman had been through ,” he said.
“With this in mind and my own personal journey, I decided to join this year’s Black Dog Ride.”
The ride departs Busselton on October 28 and will reach Hobart by November 5 passing through many country towns in WA, SA and VIC to spread the message along the way.
To make a donation to the Black Dog Ride Tasmania 2017 and help Mr Halligan on his journey visit black-dog-ride.giveeasy.org/tasmania-2017.
If you or someone you know is struggling or needs help please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.