Swimming for men’s mental health

Every day in Australia, an average of 6 men will take their own lives.

It’s a sobering reality that we all need to face: that suicide in this country is the leading cause of death in Australian men aged 15-44. That’s more than double the national road toll.

Even scarier is that so few men seek help. They suffer in silence. They don’t talk to their mates. They wouldn’t speak up to their GP. And research shows they’re certainly much less likely than women to ring a helpline for advice or just a friendly ear.

That’s a problem, because when you don’t open up and talk about how you’re feeling – how crappy work is at the moment, how sad you are about a relationship breakdown, how stressed you’re feeling about family troubles or life in general, your mental health and wellbeing suffers.

Which is why at SparkUp we’re so passionate about supporting blokes who might be struggling – and initiatives that actively work to raise awareness about this important issue and funding to improve men’s mental health.

Head Above Water, a Northern Beaches-based not-for-profit that runs fund-raising ocean swims, is one of them – and last Saturday, we sponsored the Collaroy swim, which enjoyed an unbelievable turnout.

Over 500 people registered and swam in Head Above Water’s 24-hour Swim-A-Thon and the charity raised over $82,000 for Gotcha4Life. There were kids, parents, senior citizens and one guy who swam a whopping 110 laps with a shark fin attached to his back and a snorkel … needless to say, it was a lot of fun and the vibe was amazing. Over 16000 laps were swum during the marathon – that’s a lot of freestyle, breaststroke and doggy-paddle, people!

In mental health terms, the money raised will pay for 80 courses on mental health, which could add up to one course per school or community centre across the Northern Beaches.

Gotcha4Life FoundationThese will be run by the Gotcha4Life Foundation, an organisation dedicated to helping save the lives of men throughout Australia. They run an in-school program aimed at educating young men about resilience and the importance of friendships, plus a scholarship program with Lifeline to train more male counsellors.

The aim for organisations like Head Above Water and Gotcha4Life is that all men in Australia will have a mate to reach out to when they need to.

We’re so proud we were a part of it – and bring on the next Swim-A-Thon, we say!

Thanks to all who participated on the day – your support means everything to the families on the Northern Beaches and here’s hoping we can all continue to do our bit to reduce the suicide rate in our communities.

If you’d like to donate to this great cause, you can do so here.

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