I caught the end of a documentary on Tuesday evening on television in Australia. It’s called Man Up, put together by Gus Worland, a radio personality.
It was compelling television, presented by Australia’s premier public broadcaster as part of Mental Health Week, looking at the lives and pressures faced by ‘ordinary’ men and the impact it may have on them and those close to them. Take a look at the trailer here.
It’s all the more powerful because Gus is so ordinary himself. I mean that in a nice way. He’s a blokey-bloke who doesn’t mind wearing his heart on his sleeve and showing his emotions.
Man Up showcases that all of us have ‘ups and downs’; how life can seem great from the outside but it’s not necessarily on the inside. It might be work pressures, business issues, financial stress, social isolation, relationship issues, drug or alcohol use, broader family issues or physical illness – and sometimes not even any one thing.
What was clear is how important it is to talk to someone about it. More to the point, how important it is for we men to be alert to these issues in other men and to be a real friend, rather than ‘just’ a mate.
Without generalising about gender traits, women tend to be much more sensitive to the challenges faced by women they know and more likely to persist looking for an answer if something’s wrong.
Gus explains what it is that made him want to make Man Up in this oped, and why he wants to get men talking.
Wherever you are in the world reading this, you should be able to watch Man Up through ABC iView so please do.
Another activity with the same outcome in mind – talking to help talk through life’s ups-and-downs – came to my attention recently also. It’s a local community activity, but is something that could translate to any and every community.
It’s the brainchild of Shannon Nevin who played rugby league for Balman (now Wests Tigers) and Manly, and who is now a personal trainer with his own fitness centre in Sydney’s northern beaches.
Like Gus, Shannon was upset by the suicide of someone he knew. In finding out more about suicide prevention, Shannon realised that one of the issues faced by many people who suffer depression and anxiety is that there is no-one to talk to – or they think there isn’t. Not in terms of reliving all the negative things, but in terms of having someone to listen, and to talk things over with a sympathetic ear.
What did Shannon do? He started-up ‘Walk ‘n’ Talk’ – not as a fundraiser, but as an activity for his local community to get together, and for individuals to realise they’re not alone. More than 250 people attended the first one; a second one is planned for November; and Shannon has hopes of taking it national.
Walk ‘n’ Talk is a simple, and great, idea! Take a look at the video from the first Walk ‘n’ Talk to see what others had to say.
Well done to Gus for what looks like a terrific and powerful documentary series. And well done to Shannon for having the drive to make Walk ‘n’ Talk happen.
Next time you see a mate, be a friend also.
If you’re in Australia and you need to talk with someone about your mental health, you can try:
MensLineAustralia: 1300 78 99 78
Lifeline: 13 11 14
beyond blue: 1300 22 2638