It's okay to not be okay

INSPIRING: Paul Roadley, and his family - including wife, Kirstine, children Ziva, left, Annika and Cooper and his assistance dog, Luna – are travelling around Australia promoting support for people suffering from depression and anxiety.

INSPIRING: Paul Roadley, and his family - including wife, Kirstine, children Ziva, left, Annika and Cooper and his assistance dog, Luna – are travelling around Australia promoting support for people suffering from depression and anxiety.

A WESTERN Australian family travelling across the country to increase support for people suffering from depression and anxiety have left their mark on Lake Charm. 

Former emergency services worker, Paul Roadley and his family - including wife, Kirstine and their three children - are more than four weeks into a 12-month expedition. 

The Driving Oz with the Black Dog initiative aims to raise $100,000 for LifeLine Australia and the same amount for mindDog Australia. 

"It is really important that people can speak up, as it is okay to say that they are not okay," Mr Roadley said. 

"We thought it was important to focus on smaller towns as these types of issues gain coverage in major cities."

Mr Roadley spent 27 years in emergency services, including as a frontline responder to road accidents, fires, drownings and countless other human tragedies. 

In July last year, the cumulative effects, combined with other adverse events, became too much. Mr Roadley left his job and contemplated ending his life. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety and depression.

"Mental health problems are a silent killer," Mr Roadley said. 

"Just because someone doesn't show outward signs of a problem, that doesn't mean they're okay on the inside. And people working in emergency services are some of the worst affected."

Accompanying the five-member family on the year-long journey is Mr Roadley's German Shepherd assistance dog, Luna. 

"Luna's a real life-saver; she's always keeping an eye on me," Mr Roadley said. 

"She's been trained to sense when I'm down or feeling anxious and keeps bugging me until I give her the right cues to show I'm okay. 

"If I'm having a nightmare, she jumps on the bed to wake me up and lies on top of me until I've calmed down. She's a 25 kilo bundle of persistent, mindful reassurance!"

The family will spend the remainder of 2017 and up to May next year travelling around the country to talk about Mr Roadley's plight. 

The Mental Health Commissioner of Queensland has already expressed support for the family to speak at a number of events when the expectation reaches the State, whilst a recent visit to Adelaide showed the group what impact the tour is having on people. 

"We visited a youth justice program in Adelaide, and Luna just melted those who were in attendance," Mr Roadley said.

The family are self-funding the expedition, with numerous businesses providing sponsorship of the vehicle the five-person contingent is travelling, fuel and other items.

Anyone wanting to donate to the Roadleys' 'Driving Oz with the Black Dog' campaign can do so online.

* If you or someone you know needs support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, chat online with Lifeline at www.lifeline.org.au, or contact the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. Young people aged five to 25 years can call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop