Teaming up to tackle male mental illness in the Riverina

Thu Oct 18, 2012


Riverina men are being called to attend a ‘men-only’ evening in Wagga Wagga focussing on the signs and symptoms of mental illness amongst males in rural settings.

Believed to be a first for the region, the evening is being organised by RichmondPRA, a leading community-based support provider for people with mental illness.

The aim of the evening is to de-stigmatise mental illness and show that sufferers can live normal, happy lives if they know the signs and symptoms and get the right help.

One of the guest speakers will be Vince Andrews, a retired Hunter Valley truckie whose candid accounts of battling clinical depression and alcoholism for much of his life serve as a warning to all men about the dangers of ignoring signs and symptoms of mental illness, including conditions such as depression and bi-polar disorder.

Vince’s story is all the more compelling because mental illness runs in his family: his Grandfather committed suicide whilst battling depression.

Recently diagnosed with terminal lymphoma, Vince’s motto is ‘Coping with the fear of dying is easier that coping with the fear of living’ - a reference to years of suffering with depression, anxiety and loneliness.

“There are too many blokes out there who suffer in silence because of mental illness, just like I did for years on end,” Vince said.

“By hearing my story a lot of guys might walk away with ideas on how they can avoid the traps of mental illness, or do something to help family and friends who might be suffering.”

“You can usually overcome the curses of depression and the like if you take just a few steps in the right direction. The problem is many guys can’t or don’t know how to get to the first bases of help.”

The evening is being sponsored by AFL Riverina, which recently donated money to RichmondPRA from its annual charity match so more could be done to address the insidious scourge of mental illness in the region.

Local AFL players were among the first to put up their hands to attend the evening.

“The evening gives men an opportunity to hear some facts about mental illness,” AFL Riverina Football Operations Manager Shane Buchanan said.

“This is important, given how many men knowingly and unknowingly suffer from conditions such as depression and anxiety.”

“Most guys will rush straight to a Doctor if they break an arm or a leg, but they’ll often do nothing if things aren’t quite right with their mind.

“RichmondPRA does a tremendous job helping people manage and overcome mental illness in our community, which is why we’ve teamed up with them to put a spotlight on mental illness.”

RichmondPRA Acting Wagga Wagga Service Manager Lex Burgess said the evening will have a relaxed atmosphere, enabling guys to hear some facts and anecdotes and ask questions.

“It’s an evening where guys can learn about the signs and symptoms so they can help themselves and others if need be,” Lex said.

“One in five people across Australia will suffer from a mental illness during their lives, and those most susceptible are males living in rural areas.

“There’s nothing unusual about any person who might feel depressed or anxious, or who might experience mood swings.

“Mental illness is a silent killer that claims far too many lives through suicide and leaves families in ruins when sufferers and their loved ones can’t cope.

“The more people talk about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, the better.”

Wagga Wagga Deputy Mayor Cr Andrew Negline today joined RichmondPRA staff and local football players to launch the event.

“This is an important call to all blokes to come to a unique event being put on by RichmondPRA,” Cr Negline said.

“Come along and listen in. Chances are we all know someone who suffers from mental illness. You could very well change of save the life of a mate by hearing about other peoples’ experiences.”

RichmondPRA is a not-for-profit organisation providing recovery focussed support programs, accommodation and hope for people with mental illness in New South Wales and Queensland. Advocating community-based assistance, it is a foremost mental health support provider that has been in operation for more than 40 years.


DATE/TIME:  5.30pm, Thursday 1st November, 2012
VENUE: The Victoria Hotel, 55 Baylis St Wagga Wagga


RichmondPRA, AFL Riverina and Wagga Wagga Deputy Mayor Cr Andrew Negline will launch the ‘men only’ forum.

WHEN: 11.00am, Thursday 18th October, 2012
WHERE: Victory Memorial Gardens, Wagga Wagga

Media enquiries: Matthew Watson 0417 691 884