- Riders will cover 700km over five days of the Western Australian coast to raise awareness of youth mental health and wellbeing
More than 180 cyclists set the wheels in motion this morning as they set off on the start of 700 kilometre journeys from Geraldton and Albany to Perth.
Mental Health Minister Roger Cook is aiming to be the first State Minister to complete the ride. The Minister will cycle 700km along the Great Southern and South-West coast over the next five days. He will visit high schools along the way and meet young people to raise awareness about youth mental health, and help reduce the stigma which surrounds the issue.
Mr Cook is also participating in The Hawaiian Ride for Youth to help illustrate firsthand the important connection between physical exercise and strong mental health.
One in four Australians aged 16 to 24 experience a mental illness. 75 per cent of mental health issues start before the age of 25.
The journey will take the Minister's team, the WA Primary Health Alliance team, from Albany through Walpole and Pemberton and up to Busselton and Mandurah before they cycle into Kings Park on Saturday morning (March 24).
Since its inception in 2003, the annual Hawaiian Ride for Youth has raised more than $17 million to support Youth Focus in assisting young Western Australians. This year, the ride hopes to raise more than $1.2 million.
For support, call beyondblue on 1300 224 636 for 24/7 free counselling, Lifeline in a crisis situation on 13 11 14, or join the discussion with other young people in one of ReachOut.com's online forums.
Comments attributed to Mental Health Minister Roger Cook:
"Mental health issues affect many Western Australians. In 2016, 8.1 per cent of Western Australian children aged up to 15 years old had been treated for an emotional or mental health problem. This was the highest recorded number in Western Australia and a significant increase from 2002, when it was just three per cent.
"It's extremely important we support our young people so they can thrive and go on to live mentally healthy lives.
"The State Government is continuing to work with services on the ground, like Youth Focus, and all levels of government to help prevent young people from falling through the cracks."
Schedule of school visits for the Minister:
Tuesday, March 20
- North Albany Senior High School
- Denmark Senior High School
Wednesday, March 21
- Pemberton District High School
- Georgiana Molloy Anglican School, Busselton
Thursday, March 22
- St Mary MacKillop College, Busselton
Friday, March 23
- Bunbury Senior High School
- Australind Senior High School
Minister's office - 6552 6500