Mental health is a topic that has been thrust into the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people struggling for wellbeing due to isolation from others during lockdown, or becoming anxious due to the economic and employment challenges emerging as a result of the crisis.
The official charity partner of the AASA and its parent organisation, the Benalla Auto Club, is Drive Against Depression, an organisation aimed at bringing together participants with a shared passion for motoring and creating judgement-free, non-confrontational environments where people can have conversations about mental health issues.
Last year, Drive Against Depression (DAD) facilitated social drives on public roads and used the AASA connection to form a relationship with the Australian Tarmac Rally Championship, enabling the creation of fun and exciting events for motoring enthusiasts.
However, as DAD co-founder and director Sarah Davis explained, 2020 has presented unique obstacles which have been difficult to overcome.
“Looking after people’s mental health and wellbeing is more important now than ever before, but because of the lockdown situation in Victoria, our opportunities to create social drives and other environments for people to connect have been extremely limited,” Davis said.
“However, there have still been some processes to put in place for those with specific requirements. We have three qualified mental health practitioners, who have been able to support the people who need it most.”
While 2020 may not have gone according to plan for DAD, Davis said the relationship with BAC and AASA yielded excellent results in 2019 and will continue in 2021.
“Our involvement with AASA and BAC was a huge part of 2019; it gave our participants the chance to enjoy different types of motoring and motorsport activities and gave people a whole new level of joy,” she said.
“Looking ahead to 2021, we’ll be starting our social drives again and we’ll be looking to dovetail those occasions with some events at Winton, such as the Friday Test and Tune sessions where some people might like to enjoy the experience of driving their car around a race track.”
The AASA is committed to continued support of the DAD cause.
“There is an overlap between the demographics of motoring enthusiasts and the demographics likely to suffer from mental illness, so there are some synergies with our involvement with DAD,” AASA business manager, Stephen Whyte said.
“We’ve been promoting DAD to our competitors at a variety of events, especially circuit racing and tarmac rally and in 2021 we’re aiming to raise awareness of the cause in other disciplines such as off-road and speedway.
“DAD continues to provide terrific support in the mental health space and we’re proud to be associated with them.”