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Train your mind: headspace message to young men

Minds need training too. That’s the message being issued by headspace today as we launch headcoach - our new national campaign for young men.

One in seven young men aged between 16 and 24 experience depression or anxiety each year - yet a meagre 13% seek help. Furthermore, suicide is the leading cause of death for young men in Australia.

Young men have a tough time recognising the importance of maintaining their mental health for a number of reasons including traditional gender role stereotypes, inability to identify early warning signs and a reluctance to let anyone know if they are struggling.

By bringing together some of the country’s most elite athletes to share tips and advice from their own experience, headcoach  highlights the importance to young men of training their bodies and their minds.

“While young men commonly understand the importance of maintaining their physical health, they do not place the same emphasis on maintaining their mental health, and many simply don’t know where to start,” said headspace CEO Jason Trethowan.

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“At headspace we are absolutely committed to ensuring all young men have the tools and confidence they need to be more proactive and open in managing their mental health and wellbeing. Simple tips like staying connected to others, building coping strategies, doing things you enjoy and sleeping well, can all play a vital role in building resilience and maintaining a healthy headspace.

“I’d like to thank all of the campaign ambassadors as well as all young people who have supported us to launch this extremely important campaign to help young men.”

headspace statistics further demonstrate the reluctance of men in seeking help, with 60 per cent of the total young people (12 – 25 years) who accessed headspace centres in 2017 being women, and only 38 per cent men. Taking a closer look, just 17% were young men 18 – 25 years old.

headcoach seeks to educate young men that maintaining their mental health is just as important as maintaining their physical health.

Tom Boyd knows this better than most. As a premiership champion with the AFL’s Western Bulldogs in 2016 his physical dominance was telling in a superb individual performance.

“We had an amazing year,” Tom said. “We managed to win the flag which was an incredible experience. But from my point of view I think it papered over a lot of the cracks that were starting to appear in my mental health.

“The real moment my mind started to turn was when I began having panic attacks while driving - that physiological effect of your heart racing, you’re sweating and you can’t concentrate, feeling dizzy.

“It’s hard for some people to understand. It’s not tangible, it’s not something you can see.”

Tom Boyd

In June 2017, at age 21, Tom announced he would take time away from the game to receive treatment for clinical depression and anxiety.

He was fortunate to have access to a team psychologist from whom he drew enormous support during his recovery and he now maintains his mental wellbeing much as he does his physical health.

“Some of the things that can be helpful for me during challenging times can be as simple as monitoring my breathing and getting ahead of moments of stress and anxiety,” he said. “Now I can say to myself I’m not feeling great, let’s go and do something enjoyable, let’s take the dog for a walk or get the camera out or go surfing.

“It is so important to make time to look after your mental health. My mental health has hindered me more than any physical injury I've sustained in my life and I've had multiple surgeries. I really had no idea of some of the techniques you can use not only to help with mental health issues but also to prevent them.”

headcoach  also harnesses the experiences of young men like Fergus Paterson. A member of headspace National Youth Reference Group, Fergus wants to encourage other young men to be proactive in supporting their mental health.

He said: “When I was struggling with depression I found it difficult to find someone to reach out to. I had never been taught about mental illness and I felt like I was so alone and isolated from the rest of the world.

“I want to change that so people can feel safe enough to seek help, because once you start the conversation it gets easier.

“If you’re not ready to talk to someone directly, you can always read up first - the headspace website is great and you can even chat anonymously with someone at eheadspace.org.au.”

If you, or a young man you know is struggling they can seek support at headspace through face-to-face, online and telephone services.

Click here for the seven tips to maintaining a healthy headspace


For headspace media enquiries please contact:
Hollie Bone
headspace Media and Communications Manager
0413 025 385 or hbone@headpace.org.au