From February 2014 to May 2015, the beyondblue National Roadshow will travel over 40,000 kilometres in a big blue bus through every state and territory in Australia, visiting hundreds of communities across the 61 Medicare Local regions. Along the way, more than 200 events will be held to encourage all Australians to ‘Take 1 step’ for better mental health.
Working closely with community stakeholders and Medicare Locals, beyondblue will hold events such as community barbecues and awareness forums, ‘Chat ‘n check’ sessions with mental health professionals and beyondblue staff, morning teas for seniors, workplace mental health presentations for businesses, playgroups for new mums, and info sessions for students, teachers and parents. The Roadshow will also tie in its schedule with major events like the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, City2Surf, Run Melbourne and other sporting events.
While the journey will be an adventure, the National Roadshow also has some serious goals:
- To help people to Tune in, Open up and Take action on their mental health
- To encourage people to Join us and support our vision of an Australian community that takes action on depression and anxiety
- To encourage people to have conversations about mental health, reduce stigma and encourage people to support one another
- To create links between people and their local support services.
The Roadshow will also provide an opportunity for people to pick up free beyondblue information materials and learn about our range of programs and Support Service.
Why go on the road?
In 2005, beyondblue, in partnership with the Australian Rotary Health Research Fund, embarked on a 6-month road safari of major cities and regional centres across Australia – successfully raising awareness of depression by conducting public depression awareness forums.
Since then, awareness of depression and beyondblue has increased. However, there is more work to be done, in particular:
- raising awareness of anxiety
- encouraging men to take action
- reducing suicide
- decreasing discrimination and stigma.
At any given time, over 2 million Australians have anxiety and more than 1 million have depression – these are very common conditions. Unfortunately, more than half of those experiencing a mental health condition don’t seek help. A high proportion of people who take their lives have untreated depression and in Australia more than 2000 people die by suicide every year. This is more than 2000 too many.
beyondblue research shows there is considerable stigma associated with having depression and anxiety, and people often have negative views of themselves, feeling embarrassed and thinking it is a sign of weakness. Other people often hold negative views of people with mental health problems. This combined stigma can stop people accessing treatment, getting employment and housing, and it may also affect their quality of life and personal relationships. The stigma and discrimination associated with depression and anxiety is often reported to be worse than the illnesses themselves.
Mental health conditions also have a clear flow-on effect to the Australian economy – one report found the cost of mental health conditions in Australia was $48.9 billion per annum in 2010-11. (Costs associated with unemployment, days of absence, reduced labour income and hours worked, and time off for staff who need to care for someone.)
By travelling the country, beyondblue aims to help people everywhere to identify the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety and know how to get help and support if necessary.
We know if we can encourage people to talk openly about how they’re feeling and take action early to access help, we can reduce the impact of depression and anxiety on individuals, their families and the community.
The Roadshow is being independently evaluated by Roberts Evaluation. If you have come across the big blue bus, please contribute to the evaluation by completing a short survey.