For Canberra’s Jason Robb, the epidemic that is mental illness in Australia couldn’t be closer to home.
He knows people who have served their country, people who have come home scarred by the experience.
Jason, too, struggles with mental health issues, but has decided to do something about it. He has suffered anxiety and depression for most of his life, in secret, not wanting the rest of the world to know. But a few years ago, he started talking about it.
“It felt amazing when I started to talk about it,” he said. “It was like a release. Then I got some help and am now on medication – it has changed my life.
“Not even my family knew what was going on inside me back then. It’s so easy to make people think you are OK.
“I’m 50 now and I kept my illness to myself for 40-plus years. It almost killed me.
“People stopped asking me to things because I would always cancel at the last minute. If I had an event coming up in a month I would stress for a month and worry and then make up excuses to cancel. I wasted so much of my life.”
Today, Jason is a different man. He is in a committed relationship, has a secure job in the building services sector and is the proud son of a woman he describes as remarkable, Wilma Robb – the key spokeswoman for the generation of Forgotten Australians.
So he reckons it’s about time he gave back.
Jason has just signed up to March On, an initiative of the not-for-profit Soldier On, which works with serving and veteran Defence personnel and their families to make life a little easier. It can range from helping with health issues to employment, learning and education programs, community and social work.
He needs sponsors to help him march 96 km – the distance of the famed Kokoda Track, site of one of the most important battles of World War II. The brave heroes who defended the track were the only line of defence protecting Australia from imminent invasion.
Jason is taking part to help veterans get on with their lives, with every dollar raised going to support life-saving mental health services for servicemen and women.
“One thing about anxiety and depression is that you make plans every day,” Jason said. “You tell yourself you’re going to do this or that with your life and you wake up and tell yourself you’re going to start it tomorrow.
“So by signing on to do this march, by setting this goal, I have to complete it now because I have people cheering me on so I know I have to finish it.
“I’m not raising a lot of money as my circle is not huge but my friends and family have put in what they can and I am so grateful for that.
“If I can raise enough money to help save the life of just one veteran, then my little mission is fulfilled.”
To support Jason on his March On Challenge for Soldier On, please follow this link.