Seven grassroots community groups backing men’s health in the Geelong region

Seven grassroots community groups backing men’s health in the Geelong region

Mr Perfect

These groups are helping support the health and wellbeing of Australian men.

On average, one in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives. Blokes make up an average of seven out of every nine suicides every single day in Australia.

The number of men who die by suicide in Australia every year is nearly double the national road toll.

They’re some scary statistics from Beyond Blue, and unfortunately, they’re statistics that stem from the difficulty that some men have in opening up and talking about how they are feeling, therefore having serious impacts on their mental health and overall wellbeing.

Celebrated around the world, Men’s Health Week (June 14-20) seeks to put an emphasis on not just the mental health of men, but their general health as a whole, this year focusing on encouraging connections with the aim of making change.

Grassroots mental health groups have a lot to offer men in Australia in their approach to wellbeing and mental health. Men can catch up with other people, have a routine, get out of the house and meet people socially – all really important things when it comes to managing mental health issues.

In light of Men’s Health Week, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best grassroots community groups that men can access in the Geelong region.

Right Mate

While showcasing vulnerability may come naturally to some, men are often less prompted by society to open up and engage in conversations about their feelings, risking their mental health and wellbeing. Geelong-based Right Mate was founded by a desire to change this narrative.

Driven by lived experience, founders of Right Mate Chris Lytas and Luke Outerbridge are passionate about not only encouraging the conversation of men’s mental health, but also understanding the actual issue and providing avenues for positive solutions.

Successfully building a community of men who look out for each other and are comfortable in their own skin, they encourage men and boys to consider their mental health, know you are not alone, to talk to others and that bad times will pass.

Right Mate runs a variety of events, from The Man Walk, to monthly Wednesday night catch ups, as well as a variety of programs for schools, sports clubs, and mental health first aid training.

Check out their website here and give them a follow on Instagram.

The Man Walk

Originally started a few years ago by Kiama physiotherapist Mark Burns (who simply began walking each weekday morning to improve his own mental health and productivity in general life, but was soon joined by both friends and strangers), The Man Walk has become an important vehicle in men’s mental health by creating a space available for men to talk about how they’re going.

With a simple motto at the helm – walk, talk, support – this initiative has touched thousands of people across the country, leading to Man Walks popping up all over the nation with the aim of boosting men’s physical and mental well-being to meet the need in the community for such free, informal support.

Locally, Chris and Luke from the aforementioned Right Mate run The Man Walk Geelong, while other walks run in Drysdale, Torquay, Warrnambool, and Werribee, among other regional locations.

Check it all out here.

Hey Mate

Founded in Geelong, Hey Mate provides a safe and inclusive space for men to talk openly about their mental health, foster community and support one another. At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, when community gatherings and running clubs were taken away and everyone was craving connection, founder Gabe McClelland began Hey Mate with the aim of creating a community and a safe space for conversation that every man needs to experience.

With a mission to ensure every man left each session feeling heard, supported, valued and connected, Hey Mate facilitated free connection sessions over Zoom for men all over the world allowing and encouraging men to show up as themselves, fully.

Continuing to run weekly sessions comprising vulnerable conversations, movement and banter, Hey Mate is a wonderful reminder that it’s normal (and healthy!) for men to talk about their feelings.

Join the Hey Mate community here.

Mr Perfect

Mr Perfect is a grassroots charity that brings men together at free BBQs in local parks across Australia every month, to create community and connection while reducing social isolation.

Like many men, the founder Terry Cornick began Mr Perfect back in 2016 after realising something was missing in the support he accessed as he tackled a lifetime of mental challenges.

At a Mr Perfect BBQ, hosts cook up a free feed and introduce attendees to each other, encouraging conversations from the everyday to the deeper. These events are for anyone, but generally aimed towards 30–60-year-old males.

More than just a BBQ, Mr Perfect also provides support, information and resources online for the good of men’s health. They’ve actually compiled a great Men’s Health Directory – a collection of Men’s Health organisations around Australia that offer a range of services. From casual chats, to Dad’s groups or crisis care; the Men’s Health Directory is a great place to start if you’re looking for some support- you’re just not sure what!

You can find your nearest BBQ here. For those in Geelong, there’s one coming up on Sunday June 20 at 10:30am, with another in Ballarat on Sunday, July 4.

The Tough Guy Book Club

The Tough Guy Book Club describes itself as ‘a fight club for your mind’. It is a modern meeting place for guys of all walks of life to get together and discuss not just the work of literary greats, but any and all of the issues that men tackle on a daily basis. It’s where guys can engage in bare knuckled conversation about the manly classics of contemporary literature.

Founded in Melbourne by Shay Leighton eight years ago, the Tough Guy Book Club has been wildly successful, expanding to 45 branches across Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the US.
Once a month, the club meets on a Wednesday to sink a couple of brews and discuss the themes and topics that arise from the previous month’s reading . A great chance to share your thoughts, meet some excellent lads and foster a community of reading and good ol fashioned chat.

You’ll find The Tough Guy Book Club in Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine, Geelong, Hamilton and Torquay, among other Victorian destinations. Find your closest one here.

The Australian Men’s Shed Association

The Men’s Shed has almost 1,000 sheds and is recognised as one of Australia’s largest male-based community development organisations providing practical support, specialised services and resources.

These ‘sheds’ are recognised as community-based, non-profit, non-commercial organisations that are accessible to all men and whose primary activity is the provision of a safe, friendly and healing environment where men are able to work on meaningful projects at their own pace in their own time in the company of other men.

A major objective is to advance the well-being and health of their male members and to encourage social inclusion.

There are a number of Men’s Sheds in the Geelong region, with locations in Newcomb, Leopold, Norlane, Lara, Bannockburn, St Leonards, and Anglesea to name a few. Find one close to you here.

Grab Life By The Balls

A charity started on the Sunshine Coast in 2016, Grab Life By The Balls is all about championing mateship for its proactive and positive benefits for men’s mental health. Perfect for those that enjoy going for a hamburger and a beer, they run laid back events for males, of all ages, to get together and hang out, whether it be a coffee, BBQ or burger night.

Embracing all types of men, and embracing men for who they are without judgement, without belittlement, without expectation, this is a group for guys to be themselves.

Since COVID, the organisation has since expanded across the country, with regular local events popping up in Warrnambool. Check it out here.

For other communities and resources, we also recommend checking out Healthy Minds Geelong who aims to promote mental health as an important and essential part of everyday living across the Geelong region, alongside organisations like Black Dog Institute, Movember, Top Blokes Foundation, Everyman, and Black Rainbow.

If you or anyone you know needs help: