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Support for journey

Benalla's Michael Donehue is walking from Albury to Benalla to raise awareness for youth mental health issues.

January 30, 2014 9:02am

Walking in support: Michael Donehue is walking from Albury to Benalla to raise awareness for youth mental health issues.


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

Michael Donehue knows what it is like to be affected by mental illness.

The 26-year-old suffered depression for several years and also watched family and friends battle the silent illness.

Now he is trying to help others, as he prepares to walk 126km from Albury to Benalla to raise money for Love Me Love You.

‘‘Going through depression myself, when I saw this opportunity to actually walk and raise awareness for mental health in youth I thought it was a fantastic opportunity for me and for the community,’’ Mr Donehue said.

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

In April Mr Picioane will 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, with Mr Donehue alongside for the local leg of the trip.

‘‘I think young people feel like they’re going down the road of depression on their own, but I want to try and break down that barrier so they know that they’re not alone and that there are people there to support them when they are going through those hard times,’’ Mr Donehue said.

‘‘Whether I raise $50 or $500, I’m raising awareness and if I can get one person to talk to somebody, I feel like I’ve done my job because that’s what I want to do, I want to just raise awareness around the community.

‘‘Depression and other related issues are silent killers; people don’t talk to anyone and then it gets to them and eats them up, so I just want to get as many people in the community involved and help as many as we can.’’

Mr Donehue said the walk would be emotional for him as he reflected on his own experience with mental illness.

‘‘It’s got a real purpose and a lot of meaning for me to be walking 126km because I know the road that people are going through and they don’t have to go it alone,’’ he said.

‘‘I was very lucky to have supportive friends and supportive family to help me get through tough times in my life, and hopefully others can have that as well.’’

Mr Donehue hopes individuals and businesses will get behind the cause and sponsor him on his journey.

‘‘I think this is a fantastic opportunity for businesses in the town to show that they actually care about mental health issues, not just for themselves and their business but for the people they’ve got working for them as well,’’ he said.

Spaces are available for business logos on a T-shirt Mr Donehue will wear during the three-day walk from April 6 to 8.

For more information or to make a donation visit give.everydayhero.com/au/michaeldonehue

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