A MENTAL health advocate will cycle along the Great Ocean Road to raise awareness and help reduce the stigma attached to mental illnesses.
Bendigo’s Grace Bannon will start her five-week Into the Blue cycle around Victoria tomorrow.
Ms Bannon said she would leave Melbourne at 7am and arrive at Lorne on December 13 when she would talk to the public about mental health, give gifts and do random acts of kindness before cycling to Port Campbell.
“My aim for this 2370-kilometre bike ride challenge around Victoria is to strip the stigma of mental health as I strip the kilometres cycling through each town,” Ms Bannon said.
She said that if people wanted to support her cause, they could donate money via her website Into the Blue or cycle with her as she rode around the state.
Ms Bannon said her two older sisters and mum had mental illnesses and she had “a lot” of experience with mental health issues.
The physical education teacher said she believed people were more likely to judge people with a mental illness due to a lack of education about mental health.
“I’ve got a really good quote, ‘take away the I from illness and add we to make wellness’ and I think that’s my main message, get everyone together and support the issue; then we will be educated about it,” Ms Bannon said.
She said she started fundraising for mental illness at university and thought “I want to go bigger”.
“I’d love to eventually do Australia, small steps, I’ll just get through the state one and then I’d love to go around the whole country,” Ms Bannon said.
She said wanted to give people who had a mental illness hope.
“They’re not alone, and there’s support out there,” Ms Bannon said.
If you or someone you know needs help, call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.