On the Low Down program director David Pearce. Photo: HANNAH KENNY

Helping men to reach out and ask the question

September 25, 2019 BY

A preventative mental health program which aims to inspire Australian men living in regional Victoria to speak up is slated for an appearance in Torquay next week.

On the Low Down will deliver “Healthy men, healthy communities” – a free event that promotes the importance of emotional expression and vulnerability amongst men.

According to latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2015-16, Victoria’s per capita recurrent expenditure on specialised mental health services was $197.30, the lowest in Australia.

Program director David Pearce of Jan Juc said this statistic was particularly startling for communities in regional Victoria where there are limited support services.

He suggested if more proactive programs were in place, they could divert people from needing help when their mental state becomes dire.

“Regional Victoria is starved of mental health resources at the crisis end, and very little formal preventative mental health programs exist to divert people from ending up here.

“This is an incredibly costly and ineffective approach in both economic and social terms.”

Locked in for October 5, “Healthy men, healthy communities” will feature a diverse range of panellists including Jake Janson (Ocean Mind Torquay), Jules Haddock (Art of the Minds) and Peter Kelly (The Man Walk Torquay).

The event – which has received support from the Bank of Melbourne – will focus on the social and cultural factors that influence wellbeing, while also educating men on the tools needed to approach a mate who may be struggling through first engaging in self-care.

“We provide a platform to connect at-risk people but also supporters of at-risk people with really important services that are available in the area,” Mr Pearce said.

“The more that we can help people help themselves; that’s where our focus is.”

While Mr Pearce acknowledged shortfalls in the mental health space, he said it wasn’t all “doom and gloom”.

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s mental health system is now under way; the first of its kind in Australia. It will deliver an interim report by November this year and a final report by October 2020, with the state government having already committed to implementing all recommendations.

On the Low Down’s “Healthy men, healthy communities” will be held at Torquay Library (Surf City Plaza, Beach Road, Torquay) on October 5 from 1.30-4pm.

This is a free event. To register, head to onthelowdown.com.au/events.