In front of over five hundred guests, including two Australians of the Year and a who’s who of Canberra, Menslink CEO Martin Fisk read out an excerpt from a mum’s thank you letter and testimonial, drawing tears from many eyes in the audience.
Here is the full text of what our mum wrote:
I was first introduced to Menslink early this year, after my teenage son began self-harming. Our school counsellor suggested several organisations, but the Menslink message of ‘Silence is deadly’ resonated with me; my son had been silent about what had been happening to him and how he was feeling.
Initially, my son was very apprehensive about meeting a Menslink counsellor, probably because he did not feel comfortable discussing his feelings, fears, frustrations or disappointments. From the very first meeting, the fabulous counsellor put him at ease. With each appointment, my son became that little bit more confident in explaining what had been happening, not only to your counsellor but also to me.
He provided much more than a safe environment in which my son felt comfortable discussing the issues that were upsetting him. He also taught my son very practical strategies for dealing with difficult people and circumstances. More importantly, he has restored my son’s self-confidence. My son now knows he can trust his feelings and has the power to call out the bad behaviour that makes him miserable. He also now believes that just because someone else labels him in some way, it does not make the label true. What a win!
Somehow the counsellor has also addressed what my son calls his ‘extreme social awkwardness’ (those damn labels), but I would call a natural shyness of strangers. While my son still approaches unfamiliar social situations with some trepidation, he now chooses to engage with others and shows his personality more readily. That self-confidence is shining through and each success creates more self-confidence and self-trust. As an example, we attended a big celebration recently and my son knew very few of the attendees. I was concerned when we were seated separately, but really should not have worried. Each time I looked over, my son was engaging with his dinner companions, laughing with them and making them laugh with his stories. Wow! What a win.
I firmly believe that my son’s early interaction with Menslink and the counselling service will have long-lasting effects. He continues talk, to make positive changes to friendship groups, is more open to change, and is far more confident that he can handle whatever challenges life throws at him. He also now knows that silence can indeed be deadly. He speaks up for himself, sticks up for himself and makes the changes that he needs to. He will also very willingly seek out Menslink again, should that be necessary.
My son’s self-harming was a complete and utter shock to me. After I was informed, I was terrified of leaving him alone or allowing him to go back into those environments that contributed to his deep unhappiness. From the first phone call, the Menslink approach put me at ease. Your counsellor also discussed my concerns with me and provided an objective viewpoint. While I was pressured to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist, I am extremely happy to say that Menslink was the right organisation for my son and for me.
I believe that Menslink provides a unique support and, I suppose, an intervention service for our young men. The pressures being experienced by our teenagers, particularly male, are well documented. Their reactions do not necessarily mean they have a mental illness; they are confused, powerless and disillusioned. They don’t need medication; they need support, an objective ear, the safety to speak up and validation of their feelings. Menslink provided my son with all of these and more.
Both my son and I agree that as difficult as it sometimes been to deal with the fallout of being honest, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Without the support provided by Menslink, I’m not sure where my son would have ended up. Certainly deeply unhappy and feeling powerless. Where that would have ended is not something I want to think about.
Finally, as you may have guessed, I thoroughly recommend Menslink. I am extremely grateful that we were able to access their expertise, resources and support and am beyond thrilled with the outcomes and the timeframes in which these were achieved. THANK YOU!! More importantly, my self-confident, happy, funny, quirky and fabulous teenage son thanks you too!”