When you up sticks and move to the other side of the world, you look at all the wonderful things you and your family are about to experience. You look at the kid friendly spaces, the education system, the museums, the food, the commute, the holidays… The list goes on. What you don’t do, (and for good reason perhaps) is look at the negatives, like the crime rates, or the statistics when it comes to mental health.
When we moved to Australia, we were well aware that we had done very little ‘proper’ investigation into where we were going. We had toured the Sydney Opera House using Google Earth and found the Opera Bar, but apart from that we were running blind. Some may say we’re mad, but that’s just the way we did it.
Now in our third year of life down under, we have just about got into the swing of things. The driving still gets me, (the undertaking (Grrrr)), but we’re pretty much used to everything that Australia throws at us and we adore it! We feel very privileged to be here. There is however something that sits uncomfortably at the back of my mind.
It’s no secret that my daughter has struggled with anxiety, and that it got a whole lot worse before it got a whole lot better. I thought it was maybe because we took a while to access the right help, or maybe it was just not really something people are used to dealing with here. I remember being heartbroken when I overheard her being told not to be a “baby”; and we wonder why kids try and hide it… At one stage I felt so out of my depth, I was sure that anxiety and depression just weren’t very common here. I was wrong. It’s very common here, but rarely talked about. I’ve since learned it’s worse when it comes to men and boys! Why? Why are males not getting the help they need? I investigated. The more I searched, the more I heard about suicide in children; young males (yes boys too) in particular.
An article from the Huffington Post last year, and the terrifying thing is, it’s got worse.
I was horrified when I read article after article about male suicide in Australia. Every three hours someone takes their own life in ‘The Lucky Country’. Thousands of young, healthy males are ending their lives, because they feel like they have no other option.
More than 3,000 Australians took their lives last year; and 76% were men.
I have a son, who is growing up in a country where male depression and suicide is almost brushed under the carpet and not being talked about even nearly enough. Suicide is the number one way for young Aussie guys to die and no one was really talking about it, until now.
“Mateship is great, and I love my mates, but certain topics are off limits. They’re either too embarrassing or the bloke has learned through his interaction with the older blokes in his life, to be stoic and keep his problems to himself, suck it up and get on with it. Unfortunately we can only “get on with it” for so long before something breaks.” – Gus Worland
Thank the lord for Gus Worland!! This legend; together with a few more awesome humans including Hugh Jackman, has set up the charity Gotcha4life; a charity we all need to get behind and learn some lessons from. Gotcha4Life not only funds training for Lifeline Crisis Support, they strive to improve mens mental health by driving the message home to people in all sorts of ways. Most importantly, Gotcha4life go in to schools and talk face to face with boys about what it is to be a man in Australia today. ‘This program drives acceptance and understanding of the challenges facing males of all ages’. As a mum, this in particular pleases me no end!!! This charity is here to help put an end to our boys becoming yet another statistic.
So whether you’re an expat in Australia, or a true blue Aussie, man or a woman, it’s more important than ever before to get on board. Speak to your boys, listen to your boys, man or m’aam hug your mates, and we can all help turn the statistics on their heads. There really is no harm in telling your friends or your kids “I Gotcha 4 Life”.
Date for your diary: National Man Hug Day on the 16th March 2018.
You can read about each and every one of the five pillars of Gotcha4life here
‘Raising Men’s Mental Health – with the goal of saving lives and making a significant impact in raising the mental state of boys, men and their families’
If you or anyone you know needs help or support contact:
Lifeline on 131114
Beyond Blue on 1300224636.
Carers Australia on 1800 242 636 (Short-term counselling and emotional and psychological support services for carers and their families in each state and territory.)
Headspace on 1800 650 890 (Free online and telephone service that supports young people aged between 12 and 25 and their families going through a tough time.)
Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (A free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.)
MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78 (A telephone and online support, information and referral service, helping men to deal with relationship problems in a practical and effective way.)
MindSpot Clinic on 1800 61 44 34 (An online and telephone clinic providing free assessment and treatment services for Australian adults with anxiety or depression.)
QLife on 1800 184 527 3pm-12am (QLife is Australia’s first nationally-oriented counselling and referral service for LGBTI people. The project provides nation-wide, early intervention, peer supported telephone and web based services to diverse people of all ages experiencing poor mental health, psychological distress, social isolation, discrimination, experiences of being misgendered and/or other social determinants that impact on their health and wellbeing.)
Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 (A provider of relationship support services for individuals, families and communities.)
Information, resources, counselling and group support to those bereaved by suicide. Education and professional development to health, welfare and education professionals.
Support groups and online forums
Talking about what’s going on with others who understand – or may be going through something similar – can really make a difference. Black Dog Institute have a list of support groups in every state and territory that can help you connect with groups of people who meet regularly to discuss their experiences, their problems and their strategies for coping.
The beyondblue online forums are also a great way to connect with people online, in a safe and anonymous environment, to discuss anxiety, depression, suicide and a range of life issues. Anyone in Australia can participate in discussions, connect with others and share their experiences with our community.