MOVEMBER: It’s time to push past ‘how you going mate’
As FIRES rage across the country and droughts continue to wage war on our sunburnt country, there’s never been more need for togetherness. We know that natural disasters hit regional communities hard. But what we often forget is many of the men on the frontline, trying to save houses, communities, crops and livestock, day and night, have their own internal battles to fight when they return home.
The hard truth is that while we rally around men when we can see they’re physically doing it tough, it’s those silent times, often when they head home, when the feelings of guilt, shame or helplessness rear their ugly head and they feel most alone.
We know that guys aren’t always the best at opening up when they’re struggling, and men in regional areas understandably often rely on the “she’ll be right” mentality the most. Let’s be clear, this grit and resilience can be a lifesaver, it’s gotten plenty of men out of a fix. But there are times when digging deep and trying to get on with it just isn’t possible and the mask of strong and stoic masculinity starts to take its toll.
The end result of some men burying their self-doubt or despair is reflected in the dire male suicide statistics, with an average of six men in Australia taking their own lives every day.
The good news is that unlike our often disconnected, large urban hubs, Australia’s close-knit regional communities have life-saving abilities built into their very DNA. Small towns are known for their mateship, hospitality and sense of community.
The fact that everyone knows everyone as they cross paths at the pub or the local footy match is why so many families up and leave the bustle of the city for some serenity.
It’s strange then that this sense of feeling known and cared for by your neighbours can so quickly evaporate when times get tough.
Social isolation is often the first sign that something’s not quite right and while it’s easy to sense when a bloke is missing, it’s harder to know how to intervene without assuming the worst or feeling like you’re prying or embarrassing them.
The key is to stick to your strengths. To overcome the awkwardness or discomfort in pushing past the “how you going mate?” to the “let’s grab a meal and catch up” it often takes a team effort - and regional communities are built for a team effort.
If there’s a guy out there in your community who you think might be struggling, then there is no better time than Movember to reach out and check on him.
He could be close to you, or you could have just met him a few times at the gym. It often doesn’t take much more than making him feel seen or making him feel needed again to start to spread some light into the darkness.
We’ve even in-built a conversation starter for you. It’s on your upper lip, it’s a little itchy, but it works every time.
Pull together your friends for a mid-week BBQ out of the blue or invite a group to the pub this Movember and start those meaningful conversations about your health and wellbeing.
Regional communities are built to save lives, to band together and catch those men before they slip through the cracks. Let’s make sure the men living next door are living up to their potential this Movember and beyond.
If you or a mate are seeking help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for support at any time of day or night.