Good direction

• Fund-raising cyclists (left-right) Millicent Chapman, Josh Cross, Matthew Woliansky, David (Joey) Coote, Oliver Le Grice, Max Steinfort, Zachary Wei and Georgia Parker.

SWEAT was no doubt pouring out of every pore as David (Joey) Coote called the Herald from the Wheatbelt on Wednesday afternoon.

He and seven other cyclists from Geelong’s Deakin University were just out of Kellerberrin, on the final leg of their ride across the Nullarbor to Fremantle.

“It’s 38 degrees, but its sweltering on the road, more like over 40 degrees,” Mr Coote says, sounding remarkably fresh.

The riders were on track to arrive at sponsor Little Creatures on Thursday, having cycled more than 3500km in 16 days.

The trip was a fundraiser for the Black Dog Institute, a not-for-profit facility for diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

Mental health issues can be quite prevalent in certain families says Mr Coote, “but very little is known about the specific genetic components that contribute to depression and other diseases”.

“I lost two of my uncles to suicide within a decade of each other, and the hardest part was that no one saw it coming.”

Almost one in two Australians will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime, but only a third will seek help.

“No other chronic diseases are like that, it is unique to mental illness and we need that to change. The first step in producing tangible improvements in screening and management of any disease is having a strong understanding of what causes it in the first place.”

Talking to family and friends is vital says Mr Coote, who hails from Swanbourne and is studying medicine.

“We want more people asking their loved ones if they’re okay and being prepared to listen carefully to the response. Following up with them is really important too.”

When Mr Coote and 11 other cyclists left Victoria in late November, they had already reached $33,000 of their $40,000 target.

“We hit $50,000 yesterday [Tuesday December 10] and we could be closer to $60,000 by the end.”

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