Former Ballarat man walks 400km to fight depression stigma

Nathan Shanahan has already raised more than $10,000 for charity Soldier On.
PICTURE: Lewis Lower Photography.
Nathan Shanahan has already raised more than $10,000 for charity Soldier On. PICTURE: Lewis Lower Photography.

IT TAKES a whole lot of strength to walk 400km in 10 days, but it takes plenty more to overcome depression.

And that's what former Ballarat man Nathan Shanahan hopes to achieve by setting off on a journey from his now home town in Mildura to Adelaide while raising funds for charity Soldier On.

The ex-Australian solider spent six years of his life serving his country, but what came of his experiences was something he had never predicted would ever happen to him.

Mr Shanahan suffers from depression and anxiety and is determined to overcome the mental health conditions that strangles his life.

The former St Patrick's College student, now a fire fighter, also wants to help raise awareness of the illness to ensure others don't suffer in silence any longer.

He plans on doing this by picking up his 25kg backpack and marching all the way to Adelaide.

"Being in the emergency services you see many people with post traumatic stress," he said.

It is expected Shanahan will arrive in Adelaide on Anzac Day. PICTURE: Lewis Lower Photography.

It is expected Shanahan will arrive in Adelaide on Anzac Day. PICTURE: Lewis Lower Photography.

"I noticed it in my experiences it has a shameful stigma that no one wants to talk about.

"I didn't realise how many people suffer, because people battle in silence.

"One-in-eight men suffer from anxiety and depression, and 72 per cent of males don't get help because of the fear of talking about it."

More than 100 people have donated to Nathan's cause which has already exceeded his goal of $10,000. 

Mr Shanahan will kick-start his 10-day journey on April 16 and hopes to arrive at the National War Memorial in Adelaide on Anzac Day, April 25.

"As much as it's about raising awareness and raising funds, it's a self healing process for me," he said.

"Depression took away my self-confidence and motivation. I was an active person, but I was struggling to get out and walk around the block.

"Anzac Day last year things really hit home for me, it was the moment I said to my wife I need to get help, so arriving on Anzac Day has a double meaning for me." 

Money raised from his journey will be donated to Soldier On, a charity that provides support for physically and psychologically wounded men and women of the Australian Defence Forces.

Anyone wishing to donate can at https://soldieron.giveeasy.org/campaigns/walking-off-the-war-within/

You can also follow Nathan's journey to Adelaide here at facebook.com/walkingoffthewarwithin