Right now, in Australia and across the world, people are fretting, worried about their lives, their livelihood, their future and their children’s future. They fear that life will never return to what they are familiar with. They fear their plans will be destroyed and their dreams compromised.

Some of your people are experiencing these things. These are stressed and struggling to keep their minds on the job.Carrying these burdens around can lead to crippling fatigue, especially if it is effecting sleep.

It has been written about and spoken about for decades that women are better at handling stress than men. Women tend to talk to their friends, sisters, and close colleagues. As they talk, they find perspective and often discover a new clarity. And if they do not get there, they tend to keep talking until they do.

Men often suppress their stress. And it is not the purpose of this article to analyse why. There may be lots of reasons, but I guess at the end of the day, if a man is not sharing his burdens, it must be because he does not feel that it is safe.

As a man, I know that probably my greatest fear in life has been the possibility of being humiliated. In our culture, we have been very good at doing just that to our mates, in the name of “having a bit of a laugh”.

And then one day, we get the tragic news that a mate has “topped” himself and we wonder why. We say things like, “Why did he not let me know he was struggling”.

My question is, “Why did we not have any awareness that our mate was struggling?”

As we move forward in this world, one reality that will not quit is the lack of certainty about the future. There are many unknowns. Will this virus keep coming back? Will there be other viruses like it? Will world economies recover or are we doomed to experience terrible times? Will the environment hold up? Will we be ok?

But, of all the things that do need to change, one of the most crucial is that men have to step up and start taking better care of each other. Every year on April 25th, we celebrate Anzac Day, and we laud the Anzac spirit, the Anzac way. But we fail to care for our mates like the Anzacs did. We have forgotten what it means to be an Anzac.

Late last year, a good friend Tony Rabah, established The Male Hug. This is an initiative that involves a number of good men who are making themselves available to simply have a chat with any man out there who needs someone to talk to, someone anonymous.

The Male Hug is not a counselling service. It is simply a group of men whoa re available to be a good mate and have a chat, listen tow what is on your mind, and offer you some caring, non-judgmental support. It is a free service.

Perhaps you would like to try it out. Or maybe you feel you would like to be a volunteer who supports others. We provide some training to help you get started. Simply head over to The Male Hug and spend some time exploring the site.

There is more though. Tony came up with a brilliant concept called “The Talktober Challenge”.

The Talktober Challenge involves calling a different bloke every day for the month of October, to check in, say g’day, see how he is doing and just have a friendly chat. It does not matter who you are, you can think of 31 blokes to call. Consider the options:

  • A work colleague you do not see much.
  • A boss who is stuck working at home.
  • A former workmate.
  • An old schoolmate.
  • An old footy or cricket buddy.
  • An old sports coach, or even an old opponent.
  • A brother, uncle, or cousin.

In the last few weeks, since Melbourne has been in lock down, I have received calls from two old school mates, one from when I was 16 and the other from when I was 10. Both are in Queensland and were mindful of what is happening in Victoria. I was really touched by their care.

So, I invite you to take a look, get involved, or if you need to, reach out and get some support. Sometimes problems can seem so huge, but with a friendly ear to talk to, some pressure comes off the situation.

And please understand, nobody cares what you might have done or failed to do. We just care that you are ok and that you will find a way through.

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