by Marguerite Cuddihy
BURLY men, loud flashy motorbikes and leather jackets are not the first images that come to mind when thinking about psychiatrists and mental health workers, but that's part of the charm of touringbikie gang Psychs onBikes.
The hog-riding troupe of psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health professionals is embarking on a road trip across regional Queensland to raise awareness of mental health issues that impact rural communities.
As part of their 2000km journey from Brisbane to StGeorge, up to Emerald and back to Brisbane via the Sunshine Coast, the Psychs on Bikes will stop in Roma and St George for their "Psychs in the Pub” evenings.
Psychs in the Pub involvesmingling, dinner, drinks and a presentation followed by free men's health checks.
Leading mental health researcher Sue Sumskis said men came for the bikes and stayed for a conversation about mental health.
"Cutting through the stigma around mental health, especially in rural Australia, is a real challenge,” Ms Sumskis said.
Psychs on Bikes founder, psychiatrist and author of three self-help books, Dr Joe Dunn, said it was a great opportunity to stimulate conversations and highlight what support services were available.
"Generally when we enter a town we connect with the local council and run information sessions for mental health professionals and locals through breakfasts or seminars at the local pub,” he said.
"In the bush it's always been believed that blokes don't talk about their feelings.
"It's getting better over the years but we still have a long way to go.”
The Psychs on Bikes will roll into St George on April16 to host their pub event atthe Cobb and Co from 7pm.
The next day they'll head north to Roma, where Psychs in the Pub will take place at the Irish from 7pm on April 17.