BOWRAL couple Vanessa and Sam Webb have signed up to ride around Australia to fight depression.
The pair will take part in the Black Dog Ride, an initiative now in its fifth year which aims to raise awareness about depression in Australia.
The ride will cover about 14,500km in 32 days, starting in Bateau Bay on Saturday July 26, when Sam and Vanessa will set out together on their Victory Vision 1750cc bike, and finishing the lap at Bondi.
This will be the fourth Black Dog Ride Sam Webb has taken part in, his first being to the Northern Territory in 2011.
"I was diagnosed with major depression in 2001," Mr Webb said.
"It affected my career totally."
Mr Webb said many people can be reticent to talk about depression when they experience it.
"Part of why we ride is de-stigmatising it," he said.
"A lot of people feel guilt and shame and think that they're broken. But it's very treatable."
This year, 58 riders and seven support crew will ride around the country, being joined by separate state rides along the way.
Mr Webb said the focus of the ride is to get people talking about the issue of depression out in the open.
"People are prepared to open up when you say 'this is what happened to me'. Stories that people have shared have been wonderful," he said.
The ride itself is a way of starting conversations around depression.
"With that amount of bikes rolling into town, people will ask 'what are they doing?'" Mr Webb said.
"Just talking about it is the most powerful thing you can do."
Riders are also raising money for Lifeline and Mental Health First Aid, organisations which provide support to people suffering depression and mental health issues.
Since its inception, the ride has raised more than $1.5 million.
Sam and Vanessa will also be highlighting the role that carers of people with depression play.
"Depression often feels very solitary, but we don't go through it alone," Mr Webb said.
"People who love us are passengers along for the ride."
Sam and Vanessa's mascots for the trip are toy dogs "Winston" and "Clementine", named after former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and his wife.
Churchill suffered from depression, famously likening the condition to a "black dog".
Mr Webb said one of the most important things friends and family of someone with depression can do is make the time to listen.
"Ask 'how are you, really?' Let the person know that they are not faulty," he said.
Mr Webb will blog about the ride at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sams-Black-Dog-Odyssey/158528887550441
For anyone needing urgent help or support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.