Thank You Thursday: A new narrative for men

Many of us have heard of ‘the man cave’, a place where men hideout from family pressures – a place where they can really try to be themselves, a place to tinker with their bikes, cars and/or hobbies. But did you know there is a real man cave helping young men with their emotions and mental health?

As World Mental Health Day is acknowledged on 10th October we’re taking this opportunity to highlight this growing organisation, The Man Cave.

Over the centuries men have heard things like: “stiff upper lip”, “real men don’t cry”, and “showing emotions are a sign of weakness”. Men have always felt the need to hide or deny their true feelings.

And some of the facts about boys and men aren’t telling a good story.

Suicide is the leading cause of death in young men. One in five boys experience depression before the age of 18, and over 90% of sexual abuse and family violence is committed by males. The age-old narrative boys and men have been hearing is obviously no longer serving us.

In his mid-twenties and studying a Business and Psychology degree, Hunter Johnson and his friends, Benson Saulo and Jamin Heppell, began noticing anxiety and depression amongst some of their mates, and sadly, suicide. So, in 2014 The Man Cave was established – a preventative mental health and emotional intelligence organisation for young men with a new approach.

The charity currently offers programs providing opportunities for young men, often for the first time in their lives such as:

  • To realise their daily challenges are widely shared;
  • To redefine their experience of masculinity not as silence, isolation and indifference, but rather openness, vulnerability, trust and mutual responsibility;
  • To develop their emotional toolkit to powerfully deal with the challenges of life;
  • To develop interpersonal skills that help them foster the important relationships they want/need.

These programs are co-designed with mental health experts and young people, combining evidence-based research with emotional connection. More than 8,000 high school students and young men have participated in workshops which are emotionally-rich, male-positive sharing environments. The Man Cave has purposefully created space to foster trust, confidentiality and peer support.

It is anticipated that young men participating in these programs experience increased mental and physical wellbeing, which leads to a life of connection and purpose where they can realise their full potential.

For all his incredible work and commitment to this cause, Hunter has received many accolades including being a winner of Third Sector’s 2017 Emerging Leader of the Year Award and being named a Queen’s Young Leader by Her Majesty The Queen last year.

And we agree. This innovative program seems to be doing great work so this Thank You Thursday we acknowledge Hunter and the team at The Man Cave, as well as all the young men stepping so bravely into the space.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

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