A Night with the Blokes – Tomorrow Man Workshop event in Tumut on Thursday night is the result of the determination of Tumut’s Jo Murrell to act on the issue of men’s mental health.
The Workshop is a free event put on by not-for-profit organisations Gotcha4Life and Riverina Bluebell at the Tumut Boys Club Hall, starting with a barbecue at 6pm and then an “engaging, and impactful two hours of casual and honest conversation exploring where the current man code has taken us and what tomorrow’s man might look like.”
The momentum that has led to the workshop began when Jo watched the Man Up TV series on the ABC.
“At the time I was practice manager at Tumut Family Medical Centre, and I could see an increase in the need for men’s mental health resources and when I watched episode 2, when Tom Harkin and Gus Worland went into the high schools, and held one of the Tomorrow Man workshops in a high school, I saw that and thought how can we get that here?” she said.
Ms Murrell believes that an event like a suicide hits rural and regional communities like Tumut particularly hard, but also that the community responds accordingly.
“We’re a tight-knit community, we go to school together and play sport with the same kids, so if there is a tragic outcome in our community, the community wants to band together and help as much as possible,” she said.
“However, in mental health cases, men won’t open up, or they ask their mate how they are, but they’re not sure how to respond and really reach out. They think ‘what’s the next question?’ or ‘how do I help my mate out?’.”
Ms Murrell got in contact with Gus Worland.
“At that point he had started the Gotcha4Life foundation and I sent them a message on Facebook Messenger and asked if they would come to the bush,” she said.
Mr Worland eventually rang her back.
“He said ‘it’s Gus Worland, and I want to come’,” she said.
Mr Worland put her in touch with Tom Harkin from Tomorrow Man.
“We just started the process of running some workshops for the high schools, which includes Tumbarumba High, Batlow Technology School, McAuley, Tumut High and Gundagai,” she said.
“We wanted to get the program into the high schools so we could start the process of them obtaining the skills to be able to communicate with their peers and help their mates, and just go from there.”
Mr Harkin suggested having a blokes night, and Ms Murrell thought this was a great idea.
People under 16 will need to be supervised at the Blokes Night Workshop and to register go to http://bit.ly/blokesnighttumut.