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Hike for mental health

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I have a confession to make. Hiking is one of my favourite pastimes, so this 277km team challenge has been less testing than I may have embellished for the purposes of raising dollars. I would go as far as to admit that I have enjoyed (ok fine thrived!) on the extra time on trails and escaping household responsibilities under the guise of charity work!

I am fortunate to live on the Northern Beaches in Sydney, surrounded by national parkland, bush, dam, and beach after headland after beach after headland – repeat. It is a place of sun sparkly awe and wonder and certainly no hardship to spend a month clocking up kilometers.

However, the reason for our walking has been about hardship. Australia has endured some of the toughest lockdowns in the world and the full effect on mental health is yet to be understood. Bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones. Many people may be facing increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety.

In recruitment, we talk to people daily about their careers, lives and businesses and it’s been sobering to hear so many deeply personal and challenging stories.

We wanted to do something that brought us together as a team. Something that was active, outdoors, strengthened our own mental health and raised awareness for a brilliant charity – The Black Dog Institute.

A total highlight was our team walk on Saturday 23rd October where we hiked 20km from Taronga Zoo in Mosman to Fairlight beach, hugging coastline all the way. It was the first time the three of us had been able to get together since the latest round of lockdowns. We talked as much as we walked. There were lunch stops, view stops, pit stops, and an ocean-dunk stop. It was a brilliantly memorable and exhaustingly satisfying day in only how a day in the sun, outside, with friends and using your own legs and steam can be, when you hit the deck with a hero beer in the evening.

I also set myself a personal goal within the team challenge to complete 5km per day. I split this up with running and walking with my two young girls who have been in hiking bootcamp since they could toddle. They either walk or sit in the pram yelling incentives to get us up hills – ‘You’ve got this mum! You’re strong! You’re a legend!’ I’ve really enjoyed having them be a part of this challenge too and forcing myself out of the office for lunchtime walks/runs which I would have done less of before.

Looking back, I’m very proud of our team for clocking up 300km throughout October, whilst juggling kids, work, lockdown, new pups, and bad weather although as Billy Connolly says:

“I hate all those weathermen, too, who tell you that rain is bad weather. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing, so get yourself a sexy raincoat and live a little.”

In total, we raised $2811 dollars living a little. We’re extremely grateful for the generous support of our family and friends and Resources Group who made a business donation to the cause.

We know that Black Dog will invest the money well to understand, prevent, support, and help people who experience mental illness to change the trajectory of their life.

 The Black Dog Institute -

Why 277km? Devastatingly and exceptionally sobering, it's the average number of Australians who take their own lives each month.

- Suicide is the leading cause of death for 15- to 44-year-olds in Australia

- 1 in 5 Australians experience mental illness each year

- 80% of Australians stated that their mental health was worse following the pandemic.

- 60% of Australians don't seek help for mental illness.

The Black Dog Institute exists to understand, prevent, and put evidence-based technologies, support, and help in front of people who experience mental illness to change the trajectory of their life. They are driven by science, compassion, and action.

Additionally, they are the only independent medical institute in Australia investigating mental health across the lifespan of Australians. They continuously research mental health from primary school people, right up to the elderly and everybody in between – looking for the best ways to support people.

To donate, please follow the link: