Mental health grabbed by the balls

By LAURA-LEITH PETTIGREW

Mental health is having an impact for local men with four out of five deaths by suicide on the Sunshine Coast coming from the male population.

But there is help out there for men who need it.

Creator of Grab Life By The Balls Sam Parker started the group after struggling as a new father.

Mr Parker said it’s all about “proactive men’s mental health”.

“It’s making some form of positive change before things go pear-shaped,” Mr Parker said.

But Mr Parker is aware men can sometimes be closed off, aiming to create a “blokey space” where men can hang out.

“We try to keep things laid back [and] Aussie just around a BBQ and connect that way rather than sort of sitting face to face,” Mr Parker said.

“Women are really good, guys are just a little bit different and need a little bit more convincing and keep it as low key as possible.”

Grab Life by the Balls regular attendee Shaun Parry said the relaxed feel of the group was crucial to him opening up.

“When you’ve got that relaxed nature nothing is forced upon to say anything, so you feel more comfortable to go and share the things you are going through,” Mr Parry said.

Mr Parry said talking with the other men taught him how to deal with his problems and look to the future.

“They’re there to say it’s okay not to be okay 100 per cent all the time,” Mr Parry said.

“Just talking about it and getting ideas from them on how to manage it and how to change it to make a proactive rather than and reactive process,

“[And think about] what’s next in your life.”

The group holds grassroots events that emphasise mateship and connection.

A regular meeting is a breakfast barbecue at Mooloolaba beach every Friday morning from 6.30.

Mr Parker said simply hanging out at these events can improve your mental health.

“Guys getting together is really good for their health, if they’re not getting together and if they’re feeling isolated whether that’s actual or perceived it can be as bad as smoking 16 cigarettes a day,” Mr Parker said.

With Men’s Health Week next week Mr Parker urges men to take the opportunity to go talk to their mates.

“Just have a chat to a mate or even just have a look at your mates that are around you,” Mr Parker said.

“Talking about this stuff can take weight of your shoulders.”

His final word of advice being “get off your phone and get out with a mate; it’s way better for your health.”

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