AN UNLIKELY bikie gang will hit the road on a 2000km journey to raise awareness of mental health this month.
Named Psychs on Bikes, the group is made up of mental health experts who want to engage local communities.
The route will take the group from Brisbane out to St George, up to Emerald and back to Brisbane via the Sunshine Coast.
Psychs on Bikes founder psychiatrist Dr Joe Dunn said it was a great opportunity to stimulate conversations and highlight available support services.
"The suicide rate in rural communities is about one and a half times the rate of cities,” he said.
"The further you get from urban centres, the worse it gets and in indigenous communities it's just tragic.”
Leading mental health researcher Sue Sumskis said the tour helps start a conversation.
"Men come for the bikes, and stay for a conversation about mental health,” she said. "Cutting through the stigma around mental health, especially in rural Australia, is a real challenge.”
Dr Dunn said the group was committed to getting mental wellness into the lives of everyday Australians.
"Generally, when we enter a town we connect with the local council and run information sessions for mental health professionals and locals through breakfasts or seminars at the local pub.
"In the bush it's always been believed that blokes don't talk about their feelings. It's getting better over the years but we still have a long way to go.”
The bikie gang includes psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, an academic, a social worker and a school counsellor.
Psychs on Bikes will visit Rolleston, Springsure and Emerald between April 20 and April 21 on their nine-day tour. Visit www.psychsonbikes.com.
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