When Mark Powell pulls on the lycra cycling shorts in March, it will be another 3280 kilomteres before he can pack them away again.
The Warrnambool cycling enthusiast says its a small price to pay for the message he wants delivered.
The Mental health nurse is riding his bicycle from Perth to Warrnambool in March, raising awareness for Let’s Talk, an initiative aimed to motivate the community to be actively involved in reducing suicide.
After 30 years working in mental health Mr Powell said encouraging people to talk about their issues with each other is the way to do something about it.
“I want to see a change in attitudes and they way we talk about mental health,” he said.
“We want to break that stigma so it becomes a normal conversation like you’ve broken your leg, or you’ve got the flu or something.
“To be comfortable talking about it because so many people don’t want to talk about it and they battle on in isolation and it increases their risk so our prime objective is to break the stigma and ultimately that will affect suicide rates.”
Mr Powell will join a group of ten riders and five support crew riding an average of 200 kilomteres a day.
“We’ll start pedaling in Midland on March 11, our last stop will be in Edenhope and we’ll ride from Edenhope into Warrnambool to have a celebration on the Civic Green March 24,” he said.
“As we go across we’ll be doing presentations to community groups about Let’s Talk and what its message is because we believe it’s a message every community can take onboard.”
“John Parkinson will do what he always does, which is a lot of talking, and we’ll share the load.”
The ride will take on a relay format with riders having the option to have rest days.
“That’s part of the format,” he said. “We really want to support each other.
“If someone’s having a bad day they can just sit it out and have a longer rest. We’ll share it among ourselves.”
Let’s Talk is an acronym that stands for: L = learn self-care, E = express your feelings,T = tell someone, S = someone loves you, T = talk, A = ask how you’re feeling, L = listen, K = keep talking.
The south-west based initiative was launched back in 2016 by Jane and Michael Fitzgibbon, after their son Sam took his own life.
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