Black Dog riders bring mental health message

The Kangaroo Island Lions Club and local mental health services are working together to support the annual motorcycle Black Dog Ride, to be held on Kangaroo Island on Sunday, March 24.

The Black Dog Ride began in 2009 as one man’s ride to raise awareness of depression, evolving into a national movement of thousands of Australian riders who have raised more than $600,000 for mental health services and fostered a culture of mental health awareness around the country. 

The Kangaroo Island Black Dog Ride is part of the Black Dog Ride - National 1 Day Ride, but Black Dog Riders will be here for four days, and most of the riders heading to SA are from interstate. 

Organiser Graeme Noad said after one Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre, a small group visited the island in a 4WD decked out in Black Dog Ride signage.  

“We arrive at the ferry and were greeted by a very pregnant deckhand with a beaming smile, who said: ‘You blokes are going the wrong way! You're supposed to be heading for Alice. I’ve been watching you on the Today Show every morning!’ She then went on to explain that she was the proud owner of a Harley that her brother had given her, but she was unable ride at this stage,” Mr Noad said.

“That was the first hint we got that the Kangaroo Island community was getting the Black Dog Ride message. In our travels around the Island over the next few days the people we met were all keen to see us bring the Black Dog Ride message of depression awareness back to them. 

“There was the barmaid whose husband suffered from depression and who couldn’t function with daily life properly. The American gent in a wheelchair with his wife and a friend who suffered with the black dog gave us a couple of hundred bucks when they heard what we were doing. Then there was Leeza from Raptor Domain who kept on our case about coming back with a bigger group of riders to spread the Black Dog Ride message.”

Mental health worker Philippa Kneebone said she was working with the group to have a public meeting and speaker.

“This is an opportunity to talk about depression, especially as it relates to men in isolated communities.

“Kangaroo Island is not immune and I think these guys on their bikes make it okay to talk about. The message is for everyone, with a focus on men.”