August 9, 2023 | IN Together Magazine | BY Holly Brennan | 2 min read
Creating a Safe Space For Boys, With Dan From Top Blokes Foundation
There is a wide-held stigma surrounding men’s mental health. Conditioned to bottle up their feelings, it’s not surprising that from time to time the cup begins to overflow. According to Beyond Blue, on average, one in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives.
The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data (2021) shows that 75 per cent of people who take their own life in our nation are male.
Sadly, the connection between depression, anxiety and suicide is strong, as it plays a significant role to the big difference in suicide rates for both men and women.
However, a glimmer of hope is found through Top Blokes Foundation – an Australian-based organisation that addresses young men’s health outcomes, aiming to tackle the issue before men reach their developmental years. We sat down with Top Blokes NSW State Manager Daniel Allars, who shares his top tips for parents/carers to help young boys through those critical, and often difficult, teenage years. Dan says, “It’s about building rapport and trust over a long period of time.”
- Create space to have daily conversations
Make sure to ask your son or the young man in your life how he’s feeling each day. Having regular, small conversations will allow you to check in frequently, and avoid having one big intervention.
- Have a rating system
When having these conversations, ask your son to rate his day from 1-10. This way, when the rating starts to drop, you’ll know something isn’t quite right.
- Consider where you’re having these chats
Any parents with boys will know they struggle to open up, especially face to face. This is why having those tougher conversations facing forward in the car or while throwing the footy around can be incredibly beneficial in encouraging boys to voice their feelings comfortably.
- Accept that you’re not going to get things right, all the time
Dan says a top bloke isn’t someone who gets things right all the time, but is somebody who goes forward, questions why they got something wrong and asks: “What am I going to do better next time?”
If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.