Guy Sebastian has opened up about his personal experiences with mental health and his belief that society is in the midst of “a great depression”.
The acclaimed singer reflected on the very modern challenges that people face, particularly children, and called for a greater focus on kindness.
“I have had personal experience with mental health, both in my family and friendship circles,” Sebastian said.
“What we need to remind ourselves of on a daily basis is that people can be struggling and not show it, or really struggling and wear it front and centre. It’s such a fine line and is an individual experience for everyone.
Sebastian is part of a striking men’s mental health campaign, MEN-tality, by famed photographer Peter Brew-Bevan, who is featuring portraits of a host of notable figures with heartfelt messages.
The aim is to raise awareness of the challenges faced by a growing number of Australians and to encourage people to reach out for help when they need it.
“When I was growing up, we didn’t talk about mental health in class at school,” Sebastian said.
“I think mental health is not just the big stuff but the everyday problems. I truly believe we are in a great depression. Our kids are facing realities that we simply didn’t face as we didn’t grow up like this.
“We need to prepare them for what is ahead — that is our duty not only as parents, but as part of the human race. We have all just learnt to try and get through it the best we can, but that isn’t enough.
“We need to help them build their self-worth and moral structure that just isn’t there.”
Brew-Bevan has shot portraits of a group of well-known men and will be releasing them periodically over coming weeks.
“This project came to fruition after my personal experiences last year learning about the loss of two men within my wider social circle to suicide,” Brew-Bevan said.
Men in Australia are three times more likely to die by suicide than women, but significantly less likely to reach out for support when they need it.
News.com.au is this month raising awareness of good mental health as part of its campaign Let’s Make Some Noise. We are highlighting the issue of anxiety and its cost to employers, the community, families and sufferers in support of Beyond Blue.
“I have become passionate about getting the message out there — to hear and to be heard,” Brew-Bevan said. “To help inform other men how to talk and how to listen to each other as I have come to realise, we all have issues that need to be lightened.”
Sebastian said he hopes the campaign “breaks down barriers” and helps to “open people’s ears, conversations, hearts and words to empower us men to feel okay to be honest, and confident enough to speak up and help each other through difficult and challenging times.”
“There is no shadow that can be cast by honestly expressing yourself and asking for help,” he said.
“We all need help. Sometimes it comes in sharing a story, sometimes it comes with laughter, sometimes it comes with tears.
“But if we can all find a way to be kind to each other and know that in dark times there is a helping hand then we have a chance to save someone who might be on the edge.
“I’m so honoured to be a part of the MEN-tality campaign, for all the men in the campaign and for all the incredible men who put this campaign together. It’s really all about people and kindness.”
The first recognisable face to be featured in the MEN-tality campaign was Matty J, star of reality series The Bachelor, who said the statistics on male suicide left him “absolutely shocked”.
“As confronting as it is, it’s an issue that we shouldn’t avoid talking about,” he said.
As well as generating awareness, the project is also raising funds for mental health organisation Beyond Blue.
“This fantastic project is about promoting the understanding that seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness,” Beyond Blue Clinical Lead Dr Grant Blashki said.
“It’s about encouraging men everywhere to reach out when they feel like they’re not quite themselves, and believing that with the right support, these issues can be managed.”