THREE young men who have experienced loss and trauma are encouraging others to “speak and share” as a way of normalising mental health challenges and reaching out for support.
After watching friends and family members also struggle through difficult times, the trio, all teachers on the Mornington Peninsula, have developed programs and social media platforms to help people build the confidence to reach out and have conversations about mental health.
Ben Farish, one of the founders of the not-for-profit Speak and Share, said their philosophy was “a problem shared is a problem halved”, and their programs were built around giving people the confidence to be vulnerable, speak up and get support.
Research shows about three million Australians are struggling with mental health and the turbulent years of school, work and family life, all mixed with COVID, have created an urgent need for more support services.
Mr Farish said young men were often suffering silently in crisis, because there was still an outdated stigma of weakness in admitting to feeling depressed or anxious.
“Young men traditionally don’t easily open up and share, so you could have a friend or family member who is struggling, and you wouldn’t necessarily know how to help,” he said.
“Our programs aim to connect with the community by implementing school-based programs, sporting club programs, presenting to staff within corporate organisations and conducting broader awareness.
“Our passion is to help people, and we aim to do that by facilitating the conversation around mental health, and normalising feelings of depression and grief.
“Everyone goes through it, but you don’t have to go through it alone.”
The three friends, Mr Farish, Mason De Wit and Nathan Scagliarini, are all health and physical education teachers who have worked together to create strategies and engaging videos that take the mystery and taboo out of something that is a part of life.
Their next step is a joint venture with peninsula-based The Monkey Movement, which specialises in coaching and breath work.
The two organisations have teamed up through their shared goal of creating happier and healthier communities, by running group events that show people there are tools to help overcome mental health challenges.
The Monkey Movement’s Sam Crawford said their shared vision was to “create some serious change and help save lives”.
“This work is amazingly important after such tumultuous times throughout the last couple of years,” he said.
“As a younger person, I wish there were tools to help with the stressors of everyday life.”