4 Aussie Men Who Are Speaking Out About Mental Health
The cold hard facts are this, and they aren’t easy to hear: 45% of Australians will have to deal with a mental disorder at some point in their life. Suicide is the number one cause of death for Australian men aged between 15 and 44, and 75.7% of all suicides in Australia are men – a rate which is even higher in regional areas, among the LGBTI communities and in Indigenous communities.
But as alarming as the statistics are, there’s still a much-maligned stigma attached to talking about mental health – but hope isn’t all lost. We now have the very important task of speaking up, breaking the silence and breaking stereotypes surrounding mental illness. Let’s give a big high-five of gratitude to these four Aussie blokes who are doing just that.
#1 Gus Worland
Sydney radio man Gus Worland has dedicated his career to sharing the ins-and-outs of his personal life with the masses. But the Triple M presenter has taken things to a whole new level, producing and presenting a documentary series called Man Up. The three part show recently aired on ABC TV during Mental Health Awareness Week, and if you haven’t seen it yet it’s an absolute must watch.
It was the tragic suicide of a dear friend that inspired Gus to make Man Up. His aim was simple. He wanted to break through the outdated stereotype that real men need to be tough, and that real men don’t share their feelings. In the documentary, Gus travels around Australia to explore and explain why this Australian ideal of “manliness” is so damaging. You can watch the all three episodes of the series here.
#2 Grant Trebilco, Sam Schumacher and Joel Pilgrim
We’re big fans of these guys at The Cusp. Grant Trebilco, Sam Schumacher and Joel Pilgrim are a group of Sydney surfers who got together to create a monumental movement. OneWave is “tackling mental health issues with a simple recipe; saltwater therapy, surfing and fluro”.
Every Friday morning hundreds gather at Bondi Beach, dressed head-to-toe in fluro, and with a surfboard under their arms. OneWave uses the power of the ocean to encourage people to talk openly about mental health, because the three founders themselves know all too well the consequences if we don’t. The story of One Wave is a brave but flourishing one, and you can read all about it in our recent interview with Grant, Joel and Sam.
#4 Lee Crockford
Lee Crockford is passionately concerned by the damaging idea that men shouldn’t wear their emotions on their sleeve. “The construct is so strong,” he said, “that there are literally men out there today for whom taking their own life seems like a better option than saying, “Hey, I’m not alright.” That needs to change and that’s what I’m passionate about.”
Lee was recently featured as one of The Cusp‘s 18 Young Visionaries who are changing Australia for the better. His company Spur Projects has been developing bold new approaches to suicide prevention among men, including #OldMate which arranges support companions or older men, Fuck Up Night, which encourages men to talk about their biggest failures, and The Blue Letterbox, a movement which is promoting men’s mental health in regional and remote areas.
Also with Spur Project, Lee has developed the How Is The World Feeling app which is collecting real-time data on our emotions. For your interest, according to the app, right now 52% of the world is felling happy :-)
#4 Mark Hawwa
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride
A dapper ride for a dapper cause. Mark Hawwa’s idea was to combat the negative stereotype around men on motorcycles by holding a themed ride inspired by Don Draper of Mad Men – suits, bow ties, twisted moustaches and vintage bikes. The first event was held in 2012, and after its success Mark decided to the put the community he had created to good use.
Since then, spanning across 410 cities worldwide, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride has seen more than 58,000 participants raise over USD$3,677,682 for men’s health. Following the loss of one of their ride hosts to depression last year, Mark now vows that suicide prevention will be the Ride’s number one fundraising focus.
Kate is the summer editor of The Cusp. She gets by in life as a publicist but finds time to regularly contribute to The Cusp and AWOL. Follow her travels on Instagram @katermac and Twitter @krmcc.