Top Blokes took centre stage this week at the Youth Mental Health showcase in Parliament House, Canberra, to be a voice for young male mental health.
The event was packed with over 50 MPs and Senators, as well as 40 service providers who gathered together to address the critical issue of mental health amongst young people in Australia.
A voice for young males
Top Blokes NSW State Manager, Daniel Allars and QLD State Manager, Rachel Hinds were from one of just seven organisations invited to speak at the event.
Dan and Rach seized the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the challenges young men face in today's complex world and why it is essential to focus work towards this demographic.
The Youth Mental Health showcase was organised by the Parliamentary Friends of Youth Mental Health Committee, a non-partisan group for all MPs and Senators who are concerned about the increasing rates of poor mental health among young people aged 12 to 25.
Top Blokes was the only organisation at the event that specifically targeted young males.
"It's a sobering fact that suicide is the leading cause of death among young men. Two-thirds of expulsions in schools are boys and 90% of young people in the youth justice system are male," said Rachel.
Dan highlighted how the masks young boys wear to conceal their emotional struggles can often result in suppressed anger and rage. He also emphasised how male mental health is closely intertwined with the wellbeing of females. Issues such as pornography, sexual health, consent, and intimate partner violence affect both genders.
"Shockingly statistics reveal, young women in their late teens are more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other Australian with the majority of sexual assault offenders recorded by police were by 15-19 year old males."
"Unfortunately if you are a woman aged 15-44 years in this country your leading cause of death, disability and injury is domestic or intimate partner violence," added Rachel.
Addressing the mental health challenge
Dan shared with MPs and Senators how the Top Blokes approach to tackling male mental health issues is holistic and results-driven.
"We have qualified youth workers who mentor young males aged 10-24, guiding them through the challenges of adolescence."
"This year alone, we've reached an astounding 3,500 young people and partnered with 178 schools in NSW and QLD,' said Dan.
During the Q&A session, the audience posed important questions about providing information on the available services to young people and how to direct them towards the support they need. Dan emphasised the importance of meeting young people where they are, often within the school setting, to ensure effective support and guidance.
"To really gain momentum and be trusted by young people you have to meet them where they are at."
"Top Blokes is about prevention and early intervention. By working with the same group of boys in a school every week, we arm young males with a toolkit to help them in life, a toolkit to draw upon when challenges or even just new experiences come up. Each week we work with the boys to add to that toolkit and build on their knowledge," added Dan.
The event saw individuals like Kylea Tink, MP for North Sydney and The Hon Emma McBride MP, Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention express their enthusiasm for the work done by all organisations who spoke at the event.
Hon Milton Dick MP, Speaker of the House, also chatted with Top Blokes, emphasising the need for transformative change. He echoed the excitement of being part of this critical movement for young men's mental health.
An exciting day and an excellent opportunity to showcase the power of collaboration and the commitment of organisations like Top Blokes to create a brighter future for young men. By addressing male mental health and its broader implications, we are taking significant steps towards building stronger, healthier communities for everyone.