Mental Health is an issue that, globally, has been attracting a lot more attention over the last few decades. More support programs are available than ever before, but despite that, on average seven Australian men commit suicide every day, and the rate at which men access the support available is far lower than women.
According to Men’s Talk founder Paul Litwin, this is because “It doesn’t come naturally for men; it’s much harder for men to seek help and tell them how they feel. Due to societal standards, men are expected and conditioned to be the breadwinner, the stoic, unbreaking stereotypes of what it is to be a man.” Forcing the impression upon them that to reach out for help as a man is a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of.
This notion is what Men’s Talk was founded to fight back against. Inspired by Bishop Desmond Tutu, who said, “at some point, we have to stop pulling people out of the river and go upstream to find out why they are falling in,” they take a ‘prehabilitation’ approach, focused on promotion, prevention, and early intervention. Pentanet is proud to work alongside Men’s Talk in sponsoring their upcoming Swim for Life event.
Swim for Life is an annual swimming relay event that sees tens of thousands raised to bring support and awareness to men’s mental health. Swim for Life began before Men’s Talk did to spread the message of men’s suicide prevention to the community after Paul lost several friends to suicide. Since then, the event has only grown and become a vital part of the Men’s Talk annual calendar. Teams will swim for either 9 or 24 hours, and the event will have many other activities available, such as face painting, a Pentanet basketball shoot and a Dockers vs Eagles relay.
As someone who has experienced the suicide of those close to him, Paul knows well the impact, it can have on those around them. He said, “a man committing suicide does so much to friends, families, organisations, and communities. Not just financially but emotionally and culturally. You look at that and think about what we can do better; Swim for Life and events like this help raise awareness that, as a society, we should stand up and do more, say that this is not okay, and we need to change things. We’re a health promotion organisation, but mental health is about collaboration with the community & other organisations. There’s no silver bullet, no perfect answer. It will come when we all work together and say this is what we need, we need healthy masculinity, and it is so important because it has such an impact on all of us and our community.”
We hope to see you at the Swim for Life event, where we’ll be bringing the Pentanet basketball shoot, but we want to close out with a more important message. If you’re struggling and feel like there is no one you can speak to, remember that you are not alone. Your friends and family can be there to support you, and there are organisations like Men’s Talk, Suicide Prevention Hotline and Lifeline available to talk if you need them; there’s no shame in doing so, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.