NEARLY a year’s journey walking over 5000km along the east coast of Australia, starting from Wilsons Promontory, Victoria, has brought 23-year-old Bailey Seamer to the Whitsundays along her journey to raise funds for the Black Dog Institute on her ‘Wandering Minds Walk’.
On May 18, 2022, Ms Seamer began her journey from Wilsons Prom to Cape York Peninsula in Queensland– entirely by foot.
This large-scale trek was motivated by the growing movement and conversations around mental health awareness, with the intention of raising funds for the Black Dog Institute and its ongoing commitment to research, resources, and services.
“This walking journey stemmed from my mental health journey. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive disorder when I was 14 and then was later diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder when I was 19,” Ms Seamer said.
“Obviously, navigating a chronic mental illness is challenging in itself but at the time it was really, really challenging because I was a young person right on the precipice of getting back out into the world after high school going; what am I going to do?”
Ms Seamer struggled with the mundane aspects of early adulthood due the distributive nature of her mental illness, but one day found that walking offered her clarity and peace of mind, as well as giving her a sense of accomplishment.
“I was getting help in a mental health hospital… I woke up and signed myself out for the day and I just started walking, I didn’t finish walking until 4pm that evening and I ended up at my family home which was 30kms from the hospital.”
Following this newly discovered self-worth she had found with her walking journeys; Ms Seamer made the monumental decision to walk the east coast of Australia.
“I was struggling to hold down work, struggling to do anything, but I was just really good at walking,” she said.
Ms Seamer has been contacted by the masses along her journey, schools reaching out to her as a guest speaker, mental health facilities wishing for her to visit and individuals that have their own experiences with mental illness looking for someone to talk to.
“A really important part for me isn’t just the walking, it was the connecting with the communities along the way and that has without a doubt slowed down this walk monumentally, but it was the whole purpose of it.
“I’ve got a few individuals that I’ll be catching up with over the next few days that have their own children and loved ones that are affected, or are affected themselves.”
Black Dog Institute are a medical research institute in Australia that investigate mental health through research studies, clinical services, and public resources.
“For me personally, I was actually accessing some of the trials and research that they [Black Dog Institute] were providing before I started this walk,” Ms Seamer said.
“One of the main neuropsychiatrists with Black Dog was actually one of my treating psychiatrists when I was in hospital.”
“Theres a lot of management style charities out there, which are really important as well, but the Black Dogs proactive approach with things like genetic research, that try to get to the ‘why’ of it on a scientific level, for me I find a lot of merit in that.
It’s not about just trying to treat it when it’s happened, but trying to prevent it before it does.”
Ms steamer has raised $45,629 out of her $100,000 goal so far. Those who would like to contribute to the cause can donate via www.teamblackdog.org.au under ‘Wandering Minds’.