Young blokes learn to speak and listen

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
The Young Men’s Project gets underway on Saturday.
Camera IconThe Young Men’s Project gets underway on Saturday. Credit: Youth Focus

You could save someone’s life.

Some of the first words uttered no doubt resonated with the young men who attended the Young Men’s Project in Albany.

Almost all in the room had a personal experience with suicide or mental health issues.

Sitting quietly to the edge of the room as an observer, I was in the minority but a clear example of why we must shift the way we think about mental health.

Before entering the room I felt fortunate having never had a close mate, colleague or family member take their own life.

Within 15 minutes of the workshop starting, I knew I was in the majority in terms of the reason we were all in the room.

Before the workshop began, only 14 per cent said they would go out of their way to talk about thoughts of suicide.

At the end of the day 60 per cent said they would go out of their way and another 20 per cent said they would have a chat if it came up.

The first Young Men’s Project in Albany asked men aged 16-24 to come up with ideas or events to make it easier for their demographic to seek help.

All could identify the problem — that young men are reluctant to talk about mental health and suicide or seek help. The question was how do we change that and alter the perception of openness about mental health from a sign of weakness to one of strength?

Some didn’t know their mates sitting alongside them had suffered in the past.

Perhaps I have been fortunate for the wrong reasons.

Perhaps I have not listened, ignored signs a mate was struggling or not known how to start the conversation.

That moment of realisation reinforces the power of mateship.

headspace Albany Men’s Mental Health messages:

  • If you are going through a tough time with feelings of depression or anxiety, it’s important you know that you are not alone, and there is help available. This help works, if you stick with it.
  • Admitting that you are going through a tough time, and need help to get through takes strength and courage. It isn’t a sign of weakness.
  • If you’re worried about a mate or family member who might be struggling, let them know you’re worried about them and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Stick with it until they are ready to talk.
  • Men talk better when they are doing something together, so go fishing, go for a drive, surf, skateboard, kick a footy ... anything.
  • If a mate tells you they are struggling, don’t judge them, or tell them to get over it. Listening is enough.
  • Encourage a mate who is doing it tough to speak to a family member, teacher, their GP or a support service such as headspace Albany or Youth Focus.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails