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Mental Health Run


Jason Rantall understands mental illness. At age fourteen he started drinking in a desperate effort to find relief from his pain and continued on this destructive path up until the age of forty-four. In that time he was diagnosed with OCD, bi-polar disorder, psychosis, depression, anxiety and more. A real and painful cocktail of illness. 

Over the past seven years Jason has transformed his life from barely surviving to flourishing. Jason fought demons for a very long time and is now incredibly healthy, fit and well and is about to embark on an amazing run to help others. 

The number 3,249 seems odd but when you understand that figure represents the number of Australians who died by suicide in 2022, it is a powerful motivator. That figure equates nearly nine suicides a day. Jason wants us all to be more aware of mental illness and to reduce the stigma attached to it and he wants to help those in need every day of his one hundred day running journey. 

Every day Jason will run around thirty two kilometres and he invites you to join him to run or ride and have a chat. During the one hundred day run there will be events people can attend where Jason will be giving public appearances and speaking of his personal experiences. Some of these are listed later in this article and can be found on the au/have-a-chat-run/ webpage and socials. 

Jason understands there are still not enough pathways in communities for people to openly speak and that more work needs to be done. Many people are still hiding, not coming out, still isolating and going it alone. He believes as a community we have a responsibility to create easier pathways for people and this run is one such pathway. 

The idea is to give people hope; to say it is possible for you to find a way out of what troubles you. To show there is a way out for those in the battle and give hope to their families. 

Jason’s ‘Have A Chat-Run with Jason’ kicks off on on July 11 from 36 Contingent Street and all are welcome to attend. The event starts at 9:30 and Jason will commence his run around midday. In the meantime there will be plenty going on. 

Sponsorship: Jason and Kerry need financial support for this major undertaking and individuals and corporations can help. The aim is to raise $15,000 and donation is easy through the website. 

There are also options to sponsor a leg, or an event and full details can be found at www. 

Jason’s Story: I’ve been diagnosed with OCD, bipolar, psychosis, depression, anxiety, and all these things. 

“I had a challenging upbringing and I was a troubled kid. I couldn’t get the help I needed. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, mental health was even less understood than it is now. But doctor after doctor, couldn’t give me any reasoning of what was wrong and by the age of thirteen they put it down to puberty. There were no answers, but I had a lot of crazy thoughts going in my mind. 

“At the age of 14, I found alcohol. I found peace in the alcohol because sadly, we do find peace. But what happens is it kept me in it for 30 years and kept me locked in the pain. 

“But I had all these dreams of being something. I was quite intelligent. I was doing well at school, I was good at sport. All these things. Life was going well in those senses but in my head, it wasn’t. Then school started unraveling. I failed year 12, which really hit me. Alcohol got bigger and bigger on me. It controlled me up until the age of 44. So for 30 years. 

“I always managed to work. I hung my hat on the fact that I provided financially, not well. In my occupation of nineteen years, I was very protected because it was a big organisation. If it was in a small organization, I’m not quite sure I would have kept my job for that long. I would often turn up under the weather, hung over. My drinking was constant. It took me away from everything including my family. It took me away from the things I loved. In the end, I was isolated in the shed. I’d go to work, come in, drink, write myself off, get up, go to work, write myself off, drink. 

“Over those years I made multiple attempts on my life. I kept drinking. I had a breakup with my first partner, and that sent me more into the alcohol. At the age of 38, I met Kerry, my wife now, and things started to turn around there. 

“There was a lot more security there with her, but we were still troubled. I was an alcoholic and chain smoker, very unhealthy physically, mentally. I was almost invisible; nobody knew I really existed, they just knew of Kerry and the kids. 

“Kerry was constantly worried about how she was going to find me. 

“And one day she said; “I can’t do this anymore – either things change or it’s over. You have got a choice. “ 

“I wanted to change. I wanted my family and I didn’t want to lose myself. I look back now and I know that the attempts on my life, I didn’t want to die. I just wanted the pain to end and I didn’t know any other way. It was a resting place for me. 

“I made the choice to start running the very next day and give up smoking. 

I started running on a real hot day. It was 40 degrees in February. There I was running around the hills of Narracan and that’s where the changes began. I’ve changed everything. But slowly, everything’s been slow. It’s been seven-year progress. “ 

TDN: That’s an incredible personal story and very courageous of you to share it. That helped you form this group, Bettermentall Together? 

“I wanted to share my story with people because I knew the pain people go through and I wanted to help. I wanted to shout from the rooftop. Kerry and I started a monthly support group in a little white house in Traf. The need grew. We saw that people were really getting something out of us telling our story because it gave hope to those living with mental health challenges and their loved ones, because people want hope. They want to see that it is possible to find ways. If we don’t believe something is possible, why are we going to try? 

“Then Kerry, in her wisdom, said; ‘Let’s get a shop.’ I’m thinking, This is all just… We’re just giving our time for nothing. I’m thinking, a shop, how’s this going to work? Anyway, I don’t know why, but we went with it and we ended up with a shop and started the drop-in service. More people are knowing what we’re doing and seeing and hearing about how comfortable it is to come in and see. 

“But we couldn’t afford to continue but one day Moira and Dee from the Uniting Church in Traf walked into our shop and offered us a place. It was like a shining light. 

Bettermentall is now permanently located at 36 Contingent Street and offers many programs, too many in fact to list here, but you can find out more by going to www. bettermentall.