Port Macquarie mechanic Josh Salter, 34, is no stranger to the challenges of maintaining good mental health and the devastating effects of depression.
The motorcyclist of 10 years said he has weathered the lows of depression for the last five to six years and hopes to kick start a national conversation of awareness and suicide prevention.
"Depression is tough and it may feel like there is not anyone to talk to. Now I see that the next step in my recovery is getting everyone to talk about it and not be afraid to speak out," he said.
"I first noticed it when I felt low. I felt down and didn't want to do anything or go anywhere. It was tough and I stayed away from everyone. It's hard to explain and in my experience it's like you're shutting down.
"I now have the support of everyone around me and I can talk about this. It's a very hard thing for either gender to talk about because there is impulse to shelter those feelings.
"I've had a few low points in life and I have had suicidal thoughts to the point that I see a psychologist. I can talk to people now about my feelings and open up to them."
Mr Salter is organising the annual Black Dog Ride on the Mid North Coast for Sunday, March 15. The national event campaign aims to break down barriers surrounding mental health and start conversations.
On the day registrations will be taken at 7.30am alongside an open barbecue breakfast and coffee at Port Macquarie's Short Street carpark.
From 10am, riders will listen to a ride briefing and depart around 10.15am along the coast towards Lake Cathie.
The column will head through Laurieton main street before stopping in Kew to socialise and partake in raffles.
Riders will depart Kew at 12:30pm and continue on to Wauchope before returning to Port Macquarie for lunch, live music and raffles at The Black Duck Brewery at 1.30pm.
Lifeline Mid Coast will be speaking at the event. Registration is $30 per rider, $15 for a pillion passenger and riders can pre-register online at the Black Dog Ride website before March 13.
"The last time it was run was in Taree in 2018 and here in the Mid North Coast it was run in 2016," said Mr Salter, who has ridden in the event since 2014.
"It does take a fair amount of organisation to get it up and running. The amount of hours it takes to get it all together is crazy. I'm expecting anywhere between 200 and 300 riders."
"I think it's important to get the word back out there and this ride is one way to get the message out into the community. It's my chance to bring the community together and talk about the importance of mental health."
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