We should get one thing straight: maintaining strong mental health is not a DIY project.
Everybody needs genuinely close and attentive friends. Everyone needs to share highs and lows and meaningful conversations with those friends.
Males, in particular, can find deep friendships and vital personal connections weakening and vanishing over time. With each stage of a man’s life, finding good mates can become less likely and tougher to maintain.
Emotions should be a man’s best friend, not a source of shame or a sign of weakness. Expressing emotions can clash with masculine stereotypes. But being in tune with emotions is actually vital to men’s mental health.
Too many men and boys in Australia experience mental health issues.
Suicide remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44.
Male suicides account for three quarters of all suicides in Australia.
More than two thousand men take their own lives in Australia every year
That is an average of six men every day.
The rates of depression are equally as staggering with 1 in 5 adult males expected to suffer some form of depression in a twelve-month period and over 85,000 attempt suicides.
Chances of ‘friendlessness’ trebles between early 20’s and late 40’s in males.
There are a range of services available to help people, but services themselves are not enough. Relationships are one of the most important aspects of our lives, yet we can often forget just how important our connections with other people are for our physical and mental health and wellbeing.
People who are more socially connected to family, friends or their community live longer, are happier, physically healthier and have fewer mental health problems than people who are less well connected.
It’s not about the number of friends you have or whether or not you’re in a committed relationship; it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters most. Having good relationships with mates that we can talk to before things get off track can make a big difference. Sometimes they can be the key to taking the steps that people need to turn things around or to reach out to professional supports that are available.
Having a Gotcha4Life Mate who has got your back and will be there when things are tough can play an important role in helping men and boys to work through the ups and downs of life.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A GOTCHA4LIFE MATE?
Being a Gotch4Life Mate means that:
You will be there for your mate to talk to about the tough stuff that can go on in life
You will pay attention to what is happening with your mate in the way that family and good friends do
You will ask your mate how he is going, especially when you think things might not be going so well
And if he says he is fine when you think he might not be, you will remind him that you are happy to be there to talk to if there is anything to talk about
You will back that up and make time to be there for your mate and talk about stuff.
You’ll take stuff seriously. Even though you might use humour to help keep the conversation going, you won’t be dismissive or flippant
If you think your mate needs to take action to get specialist help or deal with things, you will say so. And you will help him to identify people he might talk to (through places like the Gotch4Life website, Lifeline or [name other sites]) to get help if he needs it.
Being a Gotch4Life Mate means that you will look out for your mate. You will pay attention to whether he is ok and be there for him to talk and help out if things get hard.
It does not mean that you will have all the answers or be able to fix things for him. It does not make you responsible for your mate’s actions.
It is a commitment on your part to do your best to be there for your mate when he needs it.
And it’s a role that you take up in an explicit way so that your mate knows you are up for it and can feel comfortable that he can reach out to you if he needs to, knowing that you will have his back.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD GOTCHA4LIFE MATE?
A good Gotcha4Life Mate is someone who is:
A friend, colleague or family member
Who is easy to trust
Who listens and is easy to talk to
Who won’t wait to be asked for help if they think someone needs it
Who will help problem solve
Who will make time to be there when needed
HOW DO YOU BECOME GOTCHA4LIFE MATES?
Becoming a Gotcha4Life Mate is something that you take up explicitly.
It is a spoken commitment.
That is part of its power.
It’s not hard to do.
Identify a mate who you can confide in
Start a meaningful conversation
Share how you are truly feeling – about life, about mateship, about things that matter
Let them know you are there for them no matter what
Seal your commitment with a handshake
Secure your intentions with a ‘man hug’
Confirm ‘I’ve Gotcha4Life Mate’