Date 21/09/2020

Feature: Men’s Gathering

The Palm Island Diversionary Service runs the Men’s Gathering, a group for men to get together, talk about the things on their minds and understand the way to a healthy mind.

The Men’s Gathering is designed to make men on Palm think of their mental health no differently to their physical health, with its counselling like mental first aid. Research shows men are more likely than women to have issues or concerns about their mental health – but they are less likely than women to seek help for them. To change this, the Men’s Gathering sees its role as being:

  • to bring men together and help them understand social and emotional wellbeing;
  • to help men understand that social and emotional wellbeing includes mental health;
  • to help men consider the effect of other factors on their social and emotional wellbeing, for example life stresses, removal from family, discrimination and cultural identification;
  • to help men acknowledge the difficulty of what they are going through, that there is no shame in this and that everyone has such difficulties at times;
  • to help men reach out to themselves and to others; and
  • to help men look out for others, such as for concerns of suicide or self-harm, and to not be afraid to ask what they can do to help others.

Besides teaching men to care for their mental health, the Men’s Gathering teaches men what can happen if mental health concerns are ignored or left untreated: depression, anxiety, stress, family break-up, emotional and physical hurt to men’s loved ones and families, violence, alcohol and drug misuse, breakdown of physical health, loss of friends, loss of work and suicide.

The informal, group-based Men’s Gathering encourages men to share their thoughts and to show their support for one another, and also as an encouragement for men to seek one-on-one counselling if they feel they need it.

It also encourages men to think of counselling as a two-way process. Successful counselling is not something that can just be given to someone – it comes from having the motivation to benefit from counselling and from having a good connection with a counsellor.

The Men’s Gathering has two goals for its clients. The first is for participants to gain the knowledge and skills to change positively their ways of thinking and their mindset. The second is to give the understanding that men’s mental health doesn’t just affect the individual: they often affect others, especially men’s families, friends and loved ones, which is not often recognised.

At the most recent Men’s Gathering, there was a forty-minute presentation from a guest speaker, John Edwards, who spoke about social and emotional wellbeing and mental health, followed by an open discussion. Throughout, there were questions, answers, observations, input, thoughts, ideas and experiences shared with all. About twenty men attended.

Men’s Gatherings are held regularly at the Diversionary Centre, Reid Lane, and are one of the most popular activities the Centre runs. To find out more about upcoming groups and times, call or visit the Diversionary Service.  

Photo: the Men’s Gathering at the Diversionary Centre on Wednesday 12 August.

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