Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Bringing mental health out of the shadows one step at a time

A Benalla man will walk 126km from Albury to Benalla to raise money for youth mental health issues as part of the March with Me event.

April 2, 2014 4:20am

Spreading the love: Michael Donehue is overwhelmed by the community support he has received in the lead-up to his 126km walk from Albury to Benalla.

In Australia it is estimated that 45 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition during their lifetime.

There were 2273 deaths from suicide registered in 2011, and one quarter of all deaths — male and female between the ages of 15 and 29 — was due to suicide.

According to the Victorian Population Health Survey, in 2008 10.9 per cent of Benalla residents reported a high or very high level of psychological distress.

The Ensign continues its mental health campaign and believes it is time to act.

When Michael Donehue began fundraising for the organisation Love Me Love You he had his sights firmly set on raising $2000.

Two months later he has raised more than $8000 in preparation for his 126km walk from Albury to Benalla to raise money for youth mental health issues.

‘‘I wasn’t really surprised because when there are fundraisers and events like this, small communities rally together and show the support for such a fantastic cause,’’ Mr Donehue said.

‘‘I just wanted to get to that $2000 and then if I reached that I just wanted to raise as much as I could because all the money went to a good cause in youth mental health.’’

Love Me Love You was founded by ex-AFL footballer Lance Picioane to help prevent and control youth mental health disorders and substance abuse.

Last Wednesday Mr Picioane began his walk from Sydney to Melbourne in the inaugural March With Me event to show youth that they are never alone on the journey of mental illness or related hardships. Mr Donehue will join in on Sunday for the local leg of the trip.

Mr Donehue said people from across Victoria had been donating to the cause, and businesses both within Benalla and outside the area had jumped on board.

‘‘I think the businesses were keen because they wanted to show that they cared for not only themselves but also the people that work for them,’’ he said.

‘‘I think if businesses in town show that they’re being proactive about an issue like youth mental health it can help a lot of people in the whole community.’’

The 26-year-old Benalla resident has battled depression on and off since he was 21, and said by sharing his story he hoped others would be encouraged to speak about their experiences with mental illness.

‘‘I’ve had a few people talk to me about issues that they’ve had and they’ve said to me that they’ve never really spoken to anybody about it,’’ Mr Donehue said.

‘‘They didn’t even know that I’d gone through depression, so they were kind of shocked because they didn’t think I was the kind of person to have it.

‘‘You can put on a brave front with depression, and there’s a lot of people that go through it that put on a front every day.’’

The road to March With Me has not been without its setbacks for Mr Donehue, after he injured his calf six weeks ago.

‘‘That’s slowed down the process of my full capacity of training, which has been disappointing — but it’s made me look at other options and other avenues to train and keep that fitness up,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t care if I have to hobble the last 30km to the end, I’m going to do it.’’

Mr Donehue will begin his walk from Albury on Sunday and arrive in Benalla on Tuesday, April 8.

A public reception will be held at Rustik Cafe and Wine Bar at 4pm on Tuesday, April 8 to celebrate the completion of Mr Donehue’s leg of the walk; all are welcome.

For more information or to make a donation, visit

For immediate assistance:

Lifeline, phone 131114 or visit for counselling, information and referral.

Kids Helpline, phone 1800551800 or visit— offers counselling for children and young people aged between five and 25 years.

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