Online Interview with Black Dog Institute, February 2019.

Tanunda’s Josh West has seen first-hand the sights and sounds of amazing travel destinations across the world, including South America, Europe and many other bucket list destinations. But it was a journey closer to home in support of the Black Dog Institute that proved to be the most incredible experience.

The 1200km Heysen Trail passes through some of South Australia’s most diverse and breathtaking landscapes and is renowned as one of the world’s greatest long-distance hikes.

“Hiking the Heysen trail was easily my most demanding physical and mental challenge” 31-year-old Josh explained. “I started the hike in Flinders Ranges in the state’s mid-north and finished on the Cape Jervis coastline some two months later,” said West.

“Although it was very difficult, it was nothing compared to the struggle that people living with mental health issues go through every day.”

Josh chose to support Black Dog Institute after noticing symptoms of depression in some of his mates, and also in himself.

“After almost 7 years working in a stale office environment, I was on the verge of tumbling down a very dark hole that didn’t have a particularly soft landing,” Josh said.

“I had lost all motivation, and despite a cushy job and a comfortable life, my existence seemed to be going nowhere.”

This alarming realisation is when Josh’s travel adventures began.

Thanks to community support, Josh raised almost 12k for the Black Dog Institute’s programs.

“The work done by the Black Dog Institute has left an incredible impact across the country, particularly through rural health initiatives and the development of education programs,” he explained.

He also has some advice for others who choose to walk and fundraise for mental health. “Don’t be afraid to ask for support, particularly from the community groups and media in your region,” he said.

“Thanks to the support from several different organisations, I received massive boosts in both exposure and donations.”

The experience has been life-changing for Josh.

“Walking alone through 1,200km of remote wilderness is an exceptionally isolating experience. Days would pass and I would not see a single soul,” said Josh.

“However, throughout the hike, I knew I was in the thoughts of thousands of followers, which eradicated my feelings of loneliness.”

“I began the Heysen trail as a single man walking through South Australia’s rugged bushland. I finished the journey at the ocean’s edge with an incredible community supporting my every step.”

Would you like to walk with Black Dog institute on Saturday 4th May? Join our Exercise Your Moodwalk event and choose from a 5km or 10km route in Centennial Park. Register your interest here.