Summer Essentials Sorted!

We’ve got your summer essential sorted! Last month at the Blue Tie Ball we launched batyr budgy smugglers and we are excited to share that they are now available online.

You can pre-order your pair of exclusive batyr smugglers here thanks to our mates at budgy smuggler.

Backless onesies are available for the ladies and elephant budgys for the fellas. Perfect for an Aussie summer!

Proceeds from the sale of these exclusive smugglers will help batyr continue to run programs in schools and universities across Australia, that smash the stigma around mental health and engage, educate and empower young people to reach out for support when they need it.

Why men neglect their mental health

Sarah Berry, 
As featured on the The Juice Daily

Suck it up and move on with it.

This was how Sebastian Robertson dealt with emotion. How he thought men were meant to deal with their emotions.

Life was on track externally for the Sydneysider, except that internally it wasn’t.

“I had this separation of personality: one which everyone knew and was pretty well liked — which I liked — and the other which was complete isolation, darkness, no sense of hope or a way out,” reveals the 31-year-old , who had a good family, good friends and was president of his university college where he was studying commerce and economics.

“You generally know what the expectation is of what you’re meant to be so it becomes very easy to put that show on, especially if you’ve put that show on for a prolonged period of time… I did the standard cultural turn to alcohol, I obsessed with sport… But it distanced me from how I really felt.”

Only when he retreated to his room would Robertson allow his dark reality to play out; he managed to keep his depression and several attempts at suicide completely secret .

“It’s easy to not be seen for 12 hours or so,” he explains.

Eventually however, his internal turmoil toppled to the outside world.

After a night of heavy drinking 10 years ago, the then 22-year-old returned to college to find police there over an incident involving the intoxication of another student.

Robertson became involved, becoming “fairly confrontational” and ended up being tackled to the ground by five police officers and taken to the local station where he was put in a holding cell overnight.

“The justification was ‘we’re doing it because we think you’re a danger to yourself’” he explains. “Was I a danger to myself? Yes, 100 per cent. That was my lightbulb moment of ‘sort your shit out’.”

Sorting his shit out involved asking for help and acknowledging the stigma he felt around his own perceived weakness.

“I think there are two barriers for men,” Robertson says. “One is that mentality – ‘be a man’, ‘man-up’ and the other is admitting you have a mental health issue and reaching out for support.  ‘I can’t have a mental health issue because that is fundamentally a massive vulnerability of any individual and we don’t like to be taken advantage of’.

“On top of that, as a guy, I didn’t know how to talk about it because I’ve never discussed my emotional feelings and I was in a position where I thought I was not meant to. So overcoming the masculinity stereotype and reaching out for support at the same time is a huge hurdle to face in one hit.”

It is a challenge many men face. One in eight men experience depression and men account for 75 per cent of suicides. In Australian men aged between 15 and 45, suicide is the leading cause of death.

Experts believe that these shocking statistics are the result of others who, like Robertson, struggle in silence and just try to ‘suck it up’.

“Men tend to minimise, misinterpret or dismiss their symptoms,” explains Kristine Kafer, of the Black Dog Institute, who is presenting on how to engage men in managing their mental health at the 2016 Australian Psychological Society Congress 13 to 16 September in Melbourne.

Add to this unhelpful beliefs about masculinity — “that being a man means being strong and stoic, having to cope on one’s own and not ask for help, being strong for others and not burdening anyone, being weak if they feel strong emotions or struggle with mental health and emotional issues. This means they respond to their own distress with self blame and shame, are less likely to tell anyone or seek help, which exacerbates the symptoms and their isolation and the downward spiral”.

It was understanding this that led Robertson to begin batyr, an organisation aimed at starting conversations around mental health and which focuses on preventative education of young people. In five years since inception, batyr has reached more than 46,000 young people and trained 220 young people how to share their stories, all similar in nature to Sebastian’s.

It is also what makes others, like Kafer, stress the importance of educating men about the early signs of a spiral that can take them into a dark place.

“Men don’t tend to show the traditional symptoms of depression,” Kafer explains. “They might be narky or flustered and might display more physical symptoms — disengaging, low motivation, changes in sleep and eating patterns.”

The language men often use around depression is different too, Kafer says.

“They say they’re stressed or tired or ‘down’ not depressed or sad necessarily,” says Kafer, who adds that they are more likely to use unhelpful coping mechanisms like alcohol, drugs, over working or taking sexual risks to distract from depression.

Kafer and Robertson have similar attitudes about what we all need to do to address a problem that effects far too many Australians.

We need to create a more open conversation, check in more without judgement and listen more to ourselves and one another. And we need to stop sucking it up and start seeing the strength required in reaching out.

“You should be able to have a conversation on this topic at any point and know that there will be a spectrum of when you have good days and bad days,” Robertson says.

“We have no issue discussing ‘yeah, I know I’m unfit at the moment and i could go and do exercise but I choose not to’ and then you’ll go through moments of ‘yeah, I’m going to commit to going to the gym’. We don’t do that with mental health at all.”

“We need to stop thinking that mental health is separate from our general physical health,” adds Kafer, who also suggests exploring a free online program created by the Black Dog Institute, My Compass, that provides a mental health ‘toolkit’. “The brain is part of the body and mental health issues are very much a physical, real issue.”

Based on research by the University of NSW and the Black Dog Institute

Suicidal men did not want to be told that everything would be okay, they did want someone who would genuinely listen. “Feeling isolated and ashamed men reported that at the time they were unlikely to have sought help, but would have accepted help if it came from the right person (someone they respect) in the right fashion (nonjudgmental, genuine, open).”

Top 5 Management strategies

Taking time out

Rewarding myself with something enjoyable

Keeping busy

Exercising

Spending time with pet

Top 5 Prevention Strategies

Eating healthily

Keeping busy

Exercising

Humour to reframe

Helping others

Saturday, September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day

For support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.

Civic2Surf Canberra to Sydney comes through Goulburn for youth mental health help

Goulburn Post 
Darryl Fernance

A bedraggled group of runners taking part in the Civic2Surf Canberra to Sydney long distance event arrived in Goulburn on Friday.

COLD AND WET: Civic2Surf runners Pippa Kuhnel, Sim Chawla, Nancy Qu, Dominica Condon, Alisha Das Gupta and president Harriet Nixon at Sloane St and Finlay Rd.

With icy rain falling the whole way from Canberra to Goulburn, and more expected for the afternoon and Saturday, they could not have encountered much worse weather for the funds- and awareness-raiser.

Civic2Surf is a not-for-profit organisation helping to smash the stigma around youth mental health.

The 60-strong group of Australian National University students are aiming to raise $20,000 for Batyr, a nation-wide organisation dedicated to helping youth speak out about mental health.

The group started their run from the ANU in the early hours of Friday, aiming to reach Bong Bong Racecourse in Bowral for an overnight camp. Saturday, they would set out for Sydney in the early morning, scheduled to reach Bondi Beach at 4pm.

“We are looking for all the community support we can get,” Civic2Surf committee president Harriet Nixon said.

“Statistically speaking, one in every four of our friends will be struggling with some form of mental health.

“Removing the stigma surrounding mental health is imperative to helping our friends speak out about what they might be going through.

“No one should have to suffer in silence.”

The student-led initiative was established in 2011 to raise funds for Batyr, a not-for-profit organisation founded by an ANU alumnus who recognised the for people to talk about their mental health. The alumnus, Sebastian Robertson, opened up about his own battle with depression. He and six friends devised, then ran, a 340km course from Canberra to Sydney over six days.

Five years on, Civic2Surf has raised over $50,000 in the name of removing the mental health stigma.

This year, the cause has seen overwhelming support. Former Wallabies Clyde Rathbone, who battled with depression during his career, spoke about the issues at Civic2Surf’s July launch.

“Our goal this year was to engage with more … broader communities, increasing awareness,” Ms Nixon said. “It’s inspiring to see people getting on board to help tackle such a prevalent issue.”

  • Civic2Surf is on Facebook