Menslink Fights Against Adverse Statistics for Young Men

Published on 18 October 2013

Menslink supports young men across the Canberra region to develop their potential through free mentoring and counselling. Hands Across Canberra caught up with the not for profit to discuss the seriousness of mental health statistics for the young men in our community.

Young men drop out of school at twice the rate of young women. Nine out of ten kids in Bimberi Youth Detention Centre are male. Once they become adults, that number rises to an astounding 24 to one male to female ratio in the Alexander Maconochie Detention Centre.

4 out of 5 all suicides across Australia are men.

With serious statistics like these, the creation of Menslink eleven years ago was a welcome addition the Canberra community.

“These statistics exist in Canberra. A lot of young men as they go through adolescence don’t have a role model who can just sit down with them and show them what it’s like to be an adult contributing to society,” said Martin Fisk, CEO of Menslink.

Menslink creates a safe, supportive and fun environment for young men that otherwise might have been a statistic.

“We realised there was a gap in our society for support for young men. Whatever the reason, young guys often just need an external bloke to come and show them the ropes. And that’s where Menslink comes in,” said Martin

Menslink has teamed with the Canberra Raiders for the Silence is Deadly campaign, encouraging young men to speak up about their problems. Throughout the campaign, the team from Menslink and the Raiders have spoken to over 8500 young men in schools across the Canberra and Queanbeyan region.

“The Raiders come out and tell the guys that I’ve seen a counsellor, or I still get counselling. These are their role models telling them its okay to say they’re being bullied or have hassles in their life. We’ve got this young, fit, good looking football player getting up and saying he got bullied in high school. I mean, it even stuns me! The kids really listen up.”

Schools praise the Silence is Deadly campaign, as young men who have never presented with issues get the courage to come and talk to their counsellor.

“We’re encouraging and teaching young blokes that it’s okay to put your hand up and ask for help. You’re not a failure if you’re having a hard time. It’s an important message.”

And the program works. To date, the organisation has helped over 1000 young guys grow into successful and capable individuals.

Menslink is a very deserving recipient of a Hands Across Canberra grant to enable Menslink to train even more volunteers.

“We’ve got more young guys and more potential volunteers coming forward to help out. However, we’re constrained by our limited number of staff. This grant will help us extend our program by training experienced volunteers in some aspects of program management. The experienced guys want to help and this will allow us to support more young guys without hiring additional staff.”

Encouraging guys to speak up has highlighted another issue for the Canberran community – a need for more counselling in schools.

“More counsellors are needed. What we’ve found in schools is some young guys can sometimes find it scary talking to somebody who is from that school environment – it’s too close to home. They sometimes need to talk to someone that isn’t part of the environment – that they won’t see walking down the corridor every day; someone external.”

The barrier to this is, of course, funds.  Menslink needs a long term secure funding source so they can recruit a counsellor to help the young guys. “We can’t rely on one-off donations or grants to hire an additional counsellor – we need long term funding to provide secure employment. That’s one of my next goals for Menslink.”

Suicide still kills more young guys in Canberra than anything else.

“We want to drop this statistic, along with a bunch of others like crime rates, violence and school drop out rates. One day, we’re going to change the world,” Martin says. “one bloke at a time.”

We have no doubt they will.

To donate to the Hands Across Canberra foundation click here. To donate to Menslink click here.