22 December 2020

Menslink needs three times more mentors to keep up with demand – can you help?

| Dominic Giannini
Adam Cook, Martin Fisk, Sam Williams and Tim Gavel.

From left: Canberra Raiders player Adam Cook; Menslink CEO Martin Fisk; Canberra Raiders player Sam Williams; and Region Media’s Tim Gavel. The Raiders have long been valuable supporters of Menslink’s mentoring program. Photo: Region Media.

Contacts to crisis support services soared during September 2020, jumping by between 14 to 21 per cent compared to the same time in 2019, as young people continue to bear the brunt of COVID-19 related distress.

Lifeline received more than 83,000 contacts, while Kids Helpline and Beyond Blue clocked more than 32,000 and 28,000 contacts, respectively.

Mental health services, such as Canberra-based Menslink, are now calling out for help ahead of what is expected to be a busy new year.

Fewer than one-third of people who committed suicide between the ages of 10 and 24 were receiving mental health care at the time of their deaths, revealed research in The Medical Journal of Australia.

Improving the ability of community members, including other young people, to detect and respond to people at risk of self-harm is critical, said the report.

This is where Menslink mentors come in.

“This year more than ever, our young fellas have needed both community and connection, which they lost during lockdown,” said Menslink CEO Martin Fisk. “Young guys felt isolated at home.

“What we’ve found is that mentoring provides the young guy with confidence. Knowing someone who’s not his parent and who’s not an authority figure actually has his back.

“Someone he can turn to and ask for support and advice on how to deal with a tough situation he’s never faced before.”

READ ALSO Now is the time to turn to young people, says ACT Young Australian of the Year

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Menslink mentors continued to meet with young men where they could – such as socially distanced walks – to help maintain that connection through the isolation.

But unfortunately, the organisation is now struggling to recruit more mentors despite increasing demand – both due to the pandemic.

There are now triple the number of young Canberra men who are looking for mentors than men putting up their hands to help, said Mr Fisk.

“This year, we have found it harder to get good mentors into the program,” he said.

“With so much going on in their lives and continued uncertainty around finances and family, they’ve said, ‘Maybe another time.’

“After having so many cancelled events this year, we welcomed more than a hundred young fellas, mentors, mums and families to our Christmas barbecue at the Cotter River, our biggest mentoring event ever – [it] showed just how important connection and community really are, especially in tough times.”

READ ALSO Safe Haven Cafes – bridging the gap between crises and ED – set for January rollout

Mentoring with Menslink entails a commitment of one-to-two hours a week and you do not need any special skills as a prerequisite because full training is provided.

“If you’re a man wanting to give back to the next generation, and want to join an awesome community of likeminded blokes, get in touch with Menslink,” said Mr Fisk.

“You could just change a life for the better – your own included.”

For more information about becoming a mentor, or to sign up, please visit Menslink.

If you or someone you know needs help, Lifeline’s 24/7 crisis support service can be reached on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call triple zero (000).

Original Article published by Dominic Giannini on The RiotACT.

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