Australian athletes come together to talk about men’s mental health

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The new campaign to help men train their minds and improve their mental health.

Headspace has teamed up with well-known Australian athletes in a bid to help young men put more effort into working on their mental strength and resilience.   

New research from headspace shows young men work very hard on their physical conditioning but don’t put the same effort into taking care of their mental wellbeing.

Socceroo Daniel Arzani, NRL player James Tedesco, and AFL player Dale Thomas are among some of the sport stars featured in the national ‘head coach’ campaign. Each have opened up about their personal mental health struggles and shared tips on how they cope during challenging times.

“Hearing from role models that are athletes who have had anxiety and depression, it resonates a lot more with young men,” said headspace CEO, Jason Trethowan.

“They are saying we are all the same, this is me as a bloke talking about my challenges and that’s okay.”

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Around 80 percent of all suicides are men, and experts say the statistics may well get worse. A room of men discuss why male suicide rates are so high – and how some of them made it back from the brink.
Around 80 percent of all suicides are men, and experts say the statistics may well get worse. A room of men discuss why male suicide rates are so high – and how some of them made it back from the brink.

Each year, one in seven young men experience depression or anxiety but less than one in five of those affected seek help. 

With few men not reaching out for support, untreated symptoms are likely to escalate.

“When I get into a negative frame of mind, when I’m not confident when I’m playing you can tell the difference…” said Daniel Arzani, who was the youngest player in the recent World Cup Tournament in Russia.

“If things are piling up that are giving me anxiety I tend to make a list because it helps me see individually what everything is and how I can deal with them.”

“But just getting it out makes me feel better as well.”

Despite increasing awareness around men’s mental health issues, suicide remains the leading cause of death for young men in Australia, with male suicide making up three quarters of all deaths by suicide in Australia each year.

Child bully
Men need to focus on building up their mental health, according to Headspace. Photo: Andrew Neel/Unsplash
Unsplash

“Growing up as a young man who did face some mental health challenges I found it hard to reach out,” said 19-year-old headspace youth ambassador, Fergus Paterson.

“Young men are put under a lot of pressure to act in a certain way, to be the stoic, powerful, strong figures that are stereotypically thought of as masculine," he says.

“Having that image means that they are not as likely to be vulnerable and in tune with their emotions…It makes it harder to get help when they need it.”

Trethowan believes most men don’t know where to start looking for help. He explains the campaign – which will be shared on social media and television - is not only for young men but also their parents and friends.

“We encourage parents to talk and open up and ask these questions using statements like ‘I’ve noticed you’ve had a lot on our mind lately’,” he says.

“They might suggest going for a walk together but it’s important that whatever activity you pick, it is done regularly.”

The online element of head coach also provides a brief framework with tips to teach better mental health habits and prevent issues from escalating.

From having close and connected relationships to sleeping well or finding activities that promote confidence levels, the aim is to offer small achievable steps for young men to improve their mental health.

If you, or someone you know, needs help you can find more information at Headspace.

Source SBS Insight