Dubbo MP Troy Grant has opened up about his own struggles with mental health as he farewelled participants of this year’s Black Dog Ride.
The event raises funds for Lifeline, but also uses the rumble of scores of motorbike through small towns to trigger conversations about depression and suicide prevention.
Mr Grant himself kicked off the conversation last Friday as he addressed about 100 riders at the Church Street rotunda.
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“I’ve had my own battles with mental health and in the beginning there was very little available,” he said.
“Ultimately how I found my way back to health was because of mates that looked out for me and looked after me, that made me understand there was support out there.
“[They] were able to direct me to those resources, who got me back on my feet and who got me on a pathway that allowed me to become a local member of Parliament, to represent my community.
“So first and foremost can I offer a sincere thank you to everyone that is associated with Black Dog.”
This year’s event will see riders from across Australia converge on Darwin on August 17, passing through Coonamble, Walgett, Lightning Ridge, Roma, Emerald, Winton, Katherine and many more towns along the way.
Along the way they’ll witness some of the country’s most drought-ravaged landscapes in northern NSW and southern Queensland.
Mr Grant said there was “no better time” to “shine the spotlight” on the issue of depression and suicide prevention.
“As we’re going through a horrendous drought in this state, we’re at a pinch point for many of our community, particularly those on the land,” he said.
“Many of our communities are going to be doing it extra tough.
“Throughout the last eight years I’ve seen this group do amazing things to raise the awareness, to put this issue where it belongs at the forefront of people’s minds.
“The consequences of not doing so are simply devastating, not just for individuals, not just for families but for communities at large.”