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D27 Mens Health Night
On the evening of Wednesday June 28th, 2017, we ran a “Men’s Health
Night” at District 27 HQ in Morwell.
The idea for men to come together and discuss their health issues in a secure environment, came about after a discussion between the district operations team and the volunteer sustainability team members based in Morwell. Concern for the health, of CFA male members in the area arose due to the impacts of the Hazelwood Mine closure, the Hazelwood Mill closure, current unrest within CFA, and potentially increased exposure to traumatic incidents as the Emergency Medical Response program is rolled out. The focus for the evening was mental health, focusing on the areas of stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD management.
So, on a cold winters night, we had almost fifty (50) attendees from across the district (both volunteer and career staff). With our host D27 operations manager Bill Johnstone acting as MC for the night, we listened to heartfelt stories from Mark Thomas (Beyond Blue and VicPol), and our own Terry Heafield (‘Don’t Do It Alone’ ride, and Operations Officer D24). Both speakers had the audience on the edge of their seats when they delivered their personal stories of their journey through dark periods of depression, anxiety, and PTSD related issues.
Our speakers highlighted the need for early intervention, yet they also highlighted the difficulty that men have in talking about their mental health, particularly to partners. Some of the reasons for these difficulties were highlighted during a hilarious TED talk that emphasized the potential communications gap between the sexes *.
The night was well supported by D27 staff, Beyond Blue, ROUK, Headspace and the CFA wellbeing team. Feedback received from attendees showed the night and the speakers were a great success, and a desire for it to become a regular occurrence, possibly extending to cover other health issues was expressed.
*A Tale of Two Brains, Mark Gungor, (2011), accessed from ( https://youtu.be/3XjUFYxSxDk )