People and Places
02/09/2020
Save your bacon for mental health

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Mick Matthews is passionate about his work for Hope Assistance for Local Tradies, a men’s mental health charity he joined in June. Peninsula-born and raised, he completes the team that is focused on creating awareness about the importance of mental health. It’s a vital message that is close to Mick’s heart. 

Mick has drawn from his own mental health journey to support the recovery of others in our community. It was through his dad’s plumbing business that his dad assisted him in returning to paid employment after being unwell. He’s ever so proud to be a part of a charity that is supporting tradies.  “I studied teaching and had mental health struggles during my 20s,” said Mick. “It’s very rewarding to utilise my own experience to help others.” 

Founded in 2013 by Jeremy Forbes and Catherine Pilgrim, HALT is a national grassroots suicide prevention charity. Its Save Your Bacon events for students, apprentices and tradies across Australia were created to raise awareness of mental health. The presentations go for 20 minutes and they concentrate on opening up the conversation around mental health and suicide. Dropping the stigma is also essential, as is providing ideas for support which is established through the toolkits handed out during the event and include everything about what to do next, what HALT is and what it does. 

With COVID-19 restrictions, HALT has adapted to online events to continue to provide its invaluable support with coffee and breakfast delivered after a Zoom call by the HALT team. Online chat has become an added bonus as a result of the current way of living, with questions asked confidentially in the chat box. HALT specialises in tailoring the presentation to the group in question and is branching out to schools, emergency services and sport groups.

“We also discuss what mental health is and what becoming unwell can look like,” said Mick. “There is often subtle shifts in our well-being, and unfortunately it’s common that people leave it too late. We provide information on what you can do if you’re struggling or know someone that is. It’s hard to hold a difficult conversation, so we provide information on how to have a tough convo with a mate and offer support to make the move and take action. All tradies – both male and female – are included, of course. Our toolkits also have resources to get started, highlighting the importance of seeing your GP to get a referral for a mental health care plan.”

These key events provide tradies, students and apprentices from all walks of life with the tools to take the first step and start a conversation about mental health and well-being. HALT encourages its audience to help their mates if they are struggling by educating them on how and where they can source support when needed, specifically during these challenging times when strategies and ideas to cope are key. 

“We make sure to use relatable language and a casual tone,” said Mick. “We break the ‘macho man’ and ‘man up’ stigma and instead provide engaging presentations that are sensitive to men’s needs whatever they may be.”

Now more than ever it’s time to be reaching out to our community to let them know that there is support and services available. Find out more by visiting www.halt.org.au or by stopping by the Instagram page @haltaustralia and HALT South East Melbourne on Facebook. 

KATE SEARS

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