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Is mateship a myth?

Is the great Aussie male bond of mateship all it’s cracked up to be?

Beyondblue is calling on Australian men to think about what mateship means to them.

Making the effort to catch up regularly with friends is one of the best defences against depression, anxiety and suicide.

Nearly eight Australians die by suicide every day and of those six are men, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

One of the groups most at risk of suicide is men aged in their 30s and 40s, but research shows they are also most likely to let friendships slide as their lives change and they focus on work and family.

Research has revealed that:

  • Twenty-five per cent of middle-aged Australian men have nobody outside their immediate family to rely on;
  • Forty-five per cent say they were not satisfied with the number of friends and acquaintances they have;
  • Sixty per cent don’t feel they are part of a community.

“Just because you go to the footy with someone or call your work colleagues ‘mate’, doesn’t mean you have the kind of friendship that allows you to talk about mental health issues,” said beyondblue Chairman Jeff Kennett.

“True mateship has real depth to it. Real mates are there for one another no matter what, so don’t be afraid to talk about feeling down or not coping. A real mate will listen and back you up while you get the help you need.”

Anybody concerned about themselves or a friend’s mental health should take action: pick up the phone, make a time to catch up, knock on your friend’s door, ask how he’s really feeling, or check out the beyondblue website.

Dr Stephen Carbone, Policy, Research and Evaluation Leader at beyondblue said: “While women tend to make new friends when their circumstances change, it appears that men don’t.

“Men don’t rate social support as a big issue, but as they age they should put some effort into maintaining meaningful friendships and family connections.”

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