Kylie Gray wants to make a noise about mental health.
She will walk more than 300km over 13 days in October to raise awareness of depression, and she hopes to raise $25,000 for the cause.
“Being a sufferer myself of mental illness, it’s sickening when you hear someone has committed suicide,” Kylie said.
She said 12 Australians take their own life each day because of depression and mental illness.
“I just got to the stage where I thought I’ve got to do something,” Kylie said. “There’s so much stigma with mental illness, I’ve just got to make a noise. I have to get out there and try and help.”
Kylie plans to do that in two ways.
While the walk aims to raise awareness about how many people are battling depression and mental illness, she is also raising money that will go to The Black Dog Institute – a not-for-profit organisation that aims to reduce the stigma around mental health.
The 13-day journey will take Kylie to Uralla, then north through Bundarra, Tingha and Inverell, before she heads east to Glen Innes, then down the New England Highway through Guyra.
Kylie hopes her walk will have a direct effect on people.
“I would love to try and help everybody, but if I could help one person in my 13 days, that would be fantastic. I just want people to be able to talk, to open up, because we don’t talk about it enough.”
Kylie has had support from the community, with Armidale Servies sponsoring her. As well as donating, the club will host an event to welcome Kylie back to Armidale at the end of her walk.
“Scott, the CEO, he’s going to walk the first leg with me, and for the last 15km, staff members from Servies will walk with me. We’ll walk into town, and there will be a function afterwards,” she said.
Last week she was outside Coles, where the supermarket let her run a barbecue to raise funds, and she has received support from Green Plumb Energy & Gas and Karen Power Marketing.
But Kylie added they were looking for motor home to use on the journey, and would welcome it if anyone had one available.
You can follow Kylie’s journey on her Facebook page, ‘Kylie Walks A Black Dog Through New England’.