Teaming Up To Tackle Men's Mental Illness Across New England

Tue May 27, 2014

Men across the New England region are invited to attend a ‘men-only’ evening in Tamworth focussing on the signs and symptoms of mental illness which men in rural settings often experience.

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 people can live normal, happy lives if they know the signs and symptoms and get the right help at the right time.

One in five people will have a lived experience of mental illness during their lives, with men in rural areas such as the New England being particularly susceptible.

One of the guest speakers will be Tamworth Deputy Mayor Cr Russell Webb, who lost a brother-in-law to suicide.

“When you lose a loved one through suicide, hardly a day goes by where you don’t think about what more could have been done to stop the tragedy from happening,” Cr Webb said.

“Blokes in rural areas need to be more conscious of the signs and symptoms of mental illness. It’s not the sort of thing you can turn a blind eye to or shrug off.

“Chances are we all know someone who lives with a mental illness. You could very well change or save the life of a mate by hearing about other peoples’ experiences.

“This is the perfect forum for blokes to learn a bit more about the signs and symptoms of mental illness and what to do about them.”

Another speaker will be Vince Andrews, a retired Hunter Valley truckie whose candid accounts of battling clinical depression and alcoholism 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 of family experience of mental illness: his Grandfather committed suicide whilst battling depression.

More 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.

“Just a small bit of acknowledgement and encouragement from a mate is often a critically important.”

The evening is being supported by Tamworth Pirates Rugby Club. Local players and members are amongst the first to put their hands up to attend the evening.

“The evening gives guys an opportunity to hear some facts about mental illness,” local Australian Rugby Union Development Officer Garry Walsh 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 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 New England Manager Jim Booth said the evening will have a relaxed atmosphere, enabling participants to hear some facts and anecdotes and ask questions.

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

“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.”

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: 6.00pm – 8.00pm, Tuesday 10 June, 2014
VENUE: The Russell Room, The Services Club, 199 Marius St Tamworth

RichmondPRA and local participants will launch the ‘men only’ forum. Media outlets are invited to participate in interviews and take pictures.
WHEN: 11.00am, Tuesday 27 May, 2014
WHERE: Plain Street Fields (Opposite old Bunnings)

Media enquiries: Matthew Watson 0417 691 884