A social event with a worthy cause to its name was a big success recently, to mark the launch of an initiative that encourages men to talk more to each other about some things that may be difficult to say.
Como Jannali Junior Rugby League Football Club recently started 'Mates 4 MENtal Health', a project kicked off by some of the clubs long-time members, who sadly lost some friends to suicide.
The aim is to raise greater awareness of mental health among men at a community level, and get the word out there that saying 'I'm not OK', is OK.
The first event was held in June at The Como Hotel.
Two club members spoke about their experiences with mental health, and the guest speaker was television and radio figure Gus Worland, who is also the founder of Gotcha4Life mental health awareness foundation.
Sutherland mayor Carmelo Pesce was in attendance, and spoke of the importance of the event.
There are also workshops in the works, in the club's determination to make a difference.
The event was organised by two long-time club members, Gareth Hughes and Matt Stubbs.
Mr Hughes said the first event was a huge success, which also included an evening kick-off game among members.
"It was sold out at just over 120 people attending, which is fantastic," he said. "At the game we had up to 400 people.
"We were ecstatic. The feedback and feeling of the day was really good. It's a difficult topic, it's not easy. We talked about the high suicide rates in the shire, and some of the stats are scary.
"We're not trained professionals, we're just a couple of guys who want to do something right. We had a joke and a laugh with everyone, then it got quite serious.
"We were most pleased with the cross-section of guys there. More than anything, it brought to light the topic and got the conversation started.
"We want to make it an annual event because we had a lot of people walking away with a sense of learning something they didn't know."
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