Black Dog Institute and the Andrew Johns Walk: Fundraising and Raising Awareness of Mood Disorders in Australia

With mental disorders the third highest burden of disease and injury in Australia after heart disease and cancer, the impact of depression, bipolar disorder, even effects of alcohol and other mood disorders impacts many Australian families each year.

The Black Dog Institute

Taking its name from Winston Churchill’s euphemism for his own depression, The Black Dog Institute is an Australian educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility attached to the Prince of Wales Hospital and affiliated with the University of New South Wales.

Formally launched in 2002, The Black Dog Institute is a non-profit organisation aiming to facilitate the understanding, diagnosis and management of mood disorders. With a more clinical focus than the national depression initiative beyondblue, The Black Dog Institute supports depression and perinatal mental health clinics, community information services, research, rural education and awareness programs and professional education and training.

The Black Dog Institute website offers a range of downloadable mental health fact sheets and support service information links for those living with mood disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders, even those needs help for heroin addiction. The site offers a comprehensive range of educational resources for anyone seeking a better understanding of mood disorders and their impact in society.

Andrew Johns and Bipolar Disorder

In recent years, Australian rugby league legend Andrew “Joey” Johns has revealed his long term battle with bipolar disorder. In response to several headline grabbing incidents and controversy sparked by his erratic behaviour, John teamed with author Neil Cadigan to publish his autobiography The Two of Me (HarperCollins).

Highly regarded as possibly the best rugby league player in the history of the game and the recipient of numerous awards, Johns willingness to candidly discuss the impact of his bipolar disorder in both his private and professional life has brought him a new legion of fans and admirers.

Openly admitting the benefit he received from organisations such as The Black Dog Institute, Johns is now using his influence to promote a better awareness of mood disorders in the community, especially appealing to Australian men to be more aware and honest about their struggles.

The nib Andrew Johns Walk from Newcastle to Sydney

From 19th – 24th October, Andrew Johns will be walking from his hometown of Newcastle to Sydney to raise funds and awareness for the work of The Black Dog Institute. Several other sporting personalities will also take part.

Individuals can purchase tickets to accompany Johns on various parts of the 175km journey from Civic Park, Newcastle to Circular Quay in Sydney. The first 5.5km leg of the walk is open to community members who can walk from Civic Park, Newcastle to Empire Park, Merewether where a family fair will be held. A registration fee is payable. For registration and event details visit the NIB Andrew Johns Walk website.

The Impact of Mood Disorders on Everyday People

Upper Hunter resident David Flynn has registered to walk the entire distance with Andrew Johns. After reading Johns’ autobiography, he acknowledged his own struggles with depression over the past decade. “When two young men from the area where I live took their own lives recently, I realised how important it was to let people know that there was support available for anyone with depression. I’m really excited to be able to be part of such a great and worthwhile event.”

As David Flynn has found, acknowledging that there is a problem and discovering that there is help available can make a big difference. The Black Dog Institute and Andrew Johns are hoping that the nib Andrew Johns Walk will help to raise awareness in the community so that others can access the support and assistance they need.

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