On Wednesday morning, Menslink held our 11th annual Business Breakfast at the QT Hotel.
It was our biggest so far, with 550 attendees including representatives from a wide range of businesses and government departments, sporting and media personalities, and former Australians of the Year Rosie Batty and David Morrison.
The breakfast is our main sponsorship event of the year, and helps us raise much needed funds to continue our work with young men in the Canberra community, through our free mentoring and counselling programs, and our Silence is Deadly campaign.
Because we’ve been around for well over a decade now, Menslink is starting to see the long term impacts our work has had on individuals, their families, and our region – which was the theme of this year’s breakfast.
In my speech, I shared Matthew’s* story, which really encapsulates what we do at Menslink and why we do it.
These days, Matthew is a husband, father, successful business man, mentor, and financial supporter of Menslink.
10 years ago, Matthew was a violent young man who was going through some pretty tough stuff – both at school and at home. He’d faced a lot of disappointment, a lot of pressure, and a lot of bullying.
After one more serious incident of violence, the police got involved. They put Matthew in touch with Menslink, and he was welcomed into our mentor program.
From there, Matthew was paired with a caring, positive role model who (as Matthew puts it) “gave me an alternative angle on things that really got through to me”. For the first time he felt he wasn’t alone.
Matthew told me Menslink was the main reason he got himself sorted out. His mentor changed his outlook from lonely and depressed to confident. And as his confidence built, his frustration melted away and he wasn’t violent ever again.
Matthew didn’t need a lengthy mental health or criminal justice intervention with expensive psychologists, medication or detention. He needed someone who could help him break the cycle – teaching him how to build his own self-esteem, confidence and control over his emotions and behaviours.
And that’s exactly what we do at Menslink – without cost, without waiting lists, and without judgement.
You don’t have to be in trouble, a drug addict, a criminal, a family violence perpetrator or have a mental health condition to come and see us – you’re just a young guy who needs some advice on how to sort stuff out in his life.
In fact, we don’t label our young guys at all. They have enough labels in their life that bring them down – the last thing they need is to be analysed and diagnosed with yet another disorder. It hardly inspires them with hope for the future to have more labels heaped on them when they need advice and tips for dealing with the adversity surrounding them.
We give real world advice for the real world problems these young guys face today: bullying, poor self-esteem, anger and aggression, childhood trauma, relationship breakdowns, family violence, addiction, stress or simply an uncertain future.
We give young guys confidence, purpose and connection – critical building blocks for their mental health and fitness. Building blocks they’ll not get from online games, violent movies or a hundred Instagram likes.
If you’re a young guy who needs someone to talk to – please reach out to us.
If you’re an older bloke who could share some of his time and life experience with a young guy, please ask us about getting involved with the volunteer mentor program.
And if you want to join our community of supporters through financial or in-kind support, we urge you to get in touch.
I want to thank everyone who attended the Menslink Business Breakfast and helped make it such a fantastic morning, and I look forward to helping the 700 or so young men and their families we will reach with our programs this year.
* Not his real name