Man enough to speak up?

Tradie and mental health advocate Jeremy Forbes is encouraging Macedon Ranges locals to share their thoughts on what it means to be a man in 2021.
He has thrown his support behind new research project The Human Code that looks at men’s mental health specifically within the Macedon Ranges.
Mr Forbes said Macedon Ranges had been identified as an area experiencing high rates of harmful behaviours such as suicide, family violence, and alcohol use related harm, which were associated with men and boys adopting traditional outdated stereotypes of what it meant to be a man.
“There is a stereotypical idea of a tradie that’s strong, stoic, resilient, and being silent on emotion because there’s this idea that it’s weak,” he said.
“Pressure to conform to these stereotypes, which idealise toughness, self-reliance and emotional restriction, can contribute to men’s likelihood of distress and harmful behaviours.”
Mr Forbes is encouraging people to take part in The Human Code by contributing to the research through an online survey that seeks feedback from 1000 Macedon Ranges community members, as well as targeted interviews and focus groups, to help researchers to understand the attitudes and behaviours of men in the Macedon Ranges and how they align with traditional masculine stereotypes.
The study seeks to understand the who, when and why of these behaviours, so that community led interventions targeted at promoting healthier masculinities can be developed in the region, supporting the longer-term vision of transformational change of attitudes and behaviours of men in the area.
Mr Forbes cofounded mental health support initiative HALT (Hope Assistance Local Tradies) in Castlemaine in 2013 after the tragic death of a local tradie to suicide.
Since then, he has helped link hundreds of tradies and other men with local mental health support networks and helped break down the barriers to seeking mental health care.
“We need to get people thinking differently instead of that conditioned response of ‘you’ll be right, mate’ or ‘have a cup of concrete and harden up’ when our mates share their struggles,” Mr Forbes said.
“Mental health really requires a whole community approach. This impacts everyone. We want men to be involved and have their say to reduce the rates of suicide in the Macedon Ranges.”
To find out more about this project visit www.orygen.org.au/thehumancode
If you or anyone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or text 0477 131 114 (6pm- midnight)

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