Lifeline WA celebrates community initiatives such as community members coming together to support each other. In light of Men’s Health Week, we pose the question: how do men cope during tough times? In this article, we focus specifically on men and how community projects support their mental well-being.

During Men’s Health Week, we’ve shifted our focus to how men cope during tough times. It is not always easy to talk openly about what is happening in our lives and what we are going through. However, the more we find appropriate supports and access them when we need it, the more we can reduce the stigma associated with mental health and suicide, and we can start paving the way for a safer future for men in WA. Here are some of the community groups supporting men:

Man Walks

Hearing about the challenges and experiences of others can help us to understand our own feelings, and to feel less alone in our struggles. Many men find it less confrontational to talk while doing another activity, or side by side rather than face to face. If this is true for you, you might want to consider joining ‘The Man Walk’.

Man Walks take place on a weekly basis across the country and provide a platform for men to get together to talk and walk. According to its creator Mark Burns, the walk can increase connectedness and combat isolation. To find a walk near you, click here.

One man who talks about how the Man Walk has helped him is Jon Eddy, who joined the local Man Walk along the 1.8km Busselton Jetty to help his own mental well-being. It was only last year that Jon lost his 20-year-old son Alex to suicide.

Jon told the ABC that since losing his son, his new life’s mission is to help prevent suicides. He has seen first-hand how Man Walks bring men together to open up about whatever is going on. For the full story, see here.

Blue Tree Project

Jon has also joined up with Man Walk Busselton organiser David Barton to support the Blue Tree Project, which encourages people to talk about mental health and speak up if they are suffering from anxiety or depression. The project spreads the message by painting trees bright blue as a reminder to people “it’s OK not to be OK”.

A new blue tree will be installed in Busselton, which organiser David Barton says will “…bring together community groups, business, and tourism providers around the significant issue of mental well-being and strengthens the community’s fabric”. For more on this story, see here

Coming together to volunteer for a community cause can be a great way to meet people and feel more connected to your community. For more information on the Blue Tree Project, visit their website: www.bluetreeproject.com.au/.

Men’s Shed

Men Shed initiatives can also be excellent support for men of all ages and from all walks of life. The concept is that men can work on meaningful projects in the company of other men to encourage connectedness and social inclusion.

“The Men’s Shed is a very in-person activity”, said David Helmers, Men’s Shed Executer Officer in their newsletter The Shedder.

The group had to adapt quickly during COVID-19 and created The Shed Online to help members stay connected while adhering to physical distancing. The Australian Men’s Shed Association has even conducted many welfare calls to its members during this challenging time.

There are over 150 sheds in WA, and they have all begun opening after government restriction eased in WA over the last few weeks. Find your nearest Men’s Shed here

Lifeline WA encourages anyone to consider connecting with trusted others or community initiatives such as the ones addressed in this article. A sense of belonging can be a great support for your mental well-being and can be a pillar to lean on during tough times. Together, we need to keep stepping forward so we can continue our journey towards a safer and more connected future.

Lifeline WA is a safe place for anyone experiencing tough times. Lifeline WA provides support free of charge for separated dads, free grief and bereavement counselling, and of course, our 13 11 14 Crisis Telephone line is available 24/7 for anyone who needs to have a confidential conversation with a trained Crisis Supporter who listens.

Image Credit: Photo by Anthony Intraversato on Unsplash
Image Credit: Photo by m0851 on Unsplash