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Black Dog Rides Through Gympie

Black Dog's Michael Young With Winston

This Saturday more than 30 motorcycle enthusiasts will ride into Gympie as part of an interstate journey of more than 4,000km to raise awareness for mental ill health and suicide prevention.

Michael Young, the Queensland coordinator for Black Dog Ride, said it was the first time the Black Dog Ride would be bringing pit stop health checks to the community.

“We’ve got several trained personnel, including paramedics, nurses, GPs and trained mental health trainers along with us this year.

“At each stop we’ll be carrying out basic health checks which tick off your blood pressure, waist measurement and we’ll also be able to do a spot check on your mental wellbeing with a stress test.

“These tests are a great tool to help people check in and see how their mental health is tracking.

“All of our health checks use the national standards set by other organisations like Lifeline and Beyond Blue.

“Based on the score you receive we can provide some recommendations and fact sheets on what you can do to seek further assistance if needed.

Mr Young said many of those on the ride had personal experiences of mental illness.

“It’s really clear that, as a community, we don’t do enough to talk about issues like suicide, depression or even general mental wellbeing.

“We need to come together to have these vital conversations because they are a great catalyst for encouraging people to seek support,” Mr Young said.

Robb Major, Senior Manager for Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast Primary Health Network (PHN) said the issue of suicide prevention and mental health was a priority for the organisation.

“Suicide is the leading cause of death among Australians under the age of 45 and every year one in five Australians will experience mental health issues.

“We know that the Gympie region faces some significant challenges when it comes to issues like unemployment, psychological distress and suicide.

“Data from the PHN’s Mental Health Needs Assessment shows that psychological distress affects Gympie at rates higher that the Queensland average, with an age standardised rate of 12 per 100,0000.

“This is an issue that affects everyone in our community so we need to improve that layer of community awareness to protect people and encourage them to seek help.”

Michelle Price has been working as a journalist since 1999 and loves human interest pieces.

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