Almost a decade ago, Martin Fisk heard the words that would resonate with him to this day: “Marty, so many people look at young guys as a problem that needs to be fixed”.
The Menslink CEO and the organisation’s counsellors instead see young men as an opportunity, providing support and guidance through their school programs to people who might be struggling with their mental health or unsure of who they can speak to about their problems.
This includes some young men whose first interaction with a non-violent male adult might be with their school counsellor, previously having nowhere else to go, Mr Fisk said.
“We know that increasing young men’s resilience improves their overall wellbeing and their ability to grow and get through the tougher times in life,” he said.
“It has never been more important to increase the resilience of our young people than it has been in these turbulent years.”
The organisation runs programs for more than 8000 students in 30 to 40 schools across Canberra, Queanbeyan and Yass every year, encouraging young men to speak up about mental health issues.
Almost 90 per cent of young men and students who used Menslink’s counselling service reported a positive or very positive impact on their self-esteem and confidence, new data from the organisation shows.
This increased to 94 per cent when participants were asked about the program or counsellor’s impact on their ability to manage stress and anxiety.
“We know that the work we do in helping young guys then has a ripple effect on the community; it contributes to reducing crime, family violence, anti-social behaviour, isolation and even suicide,” Mr Fisk said.
One parent of a child who saw a Menslink counsellor lauded the work of the organisation and the impact that it had on their son’s behaviour.
“Our son was in a very dark place and I’d rang many places and was unable to get an appointment for a few months, which was very concerning for our family.
“Headspace recommended Menslink. I had previously thought it was only for adults [but] Menslink offered my son an appointment in two days and he is in a much better place now.”
For more information 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).