By McIvor Times

By: Tanya Brnjak 
2020 has been a big topic within mental health it has been an extreme-ly challenging year so far and staying in touch has never been more important. 
On average, there are around eight suicide deaths in Australia each day and 75% of those are Male. 
Victoria has been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 virus and Lifeline has received 90,000 calls each month since the pandemic started, which averages to a call every 30 seconds. 
R U OK? and World Suicide Prevention Day were both acknowledged last week, to spread the message on mental health. R U OK? Day promotes mental health, open conversations and checking in on your family, friends, and the community.   
Not being able to have regular catch ups with friends and family, events or hanging out at your favourite pub or cafes, has proven challenging for some.
Bryan Coghlan (Cogho) founded Let’s Chat in August 2019 and pro-motes the awareness of Mental Health and regularly sees the struggles which day to day people face, including real estate agents and musi-cians. Cogho stated, “We need to help each other but not to solve, as we are not counsellors.” It is extremely important we listen and set them in the right direction, such as making sure they see their local GP or coun-sellor.  A saying which Cogho has “We need to learn to like ourselves before we can love ourselves and loving ourselves is a big step towards acknowledging mental health.”
Some signs, such as a bubbly and happy person suddenly turning quiet for longer than a couple of days, can show signs of depression or that something is not quite right, and we should check up and make sure, that person is doing ok, Cogho told McIvor Times. 
Matt Leonard, Director, Agent & Senior Auctioneer of Tweed Suther-land First National Real Estate in Bendigo has seen firsthand the effects which mental health has on individuals, including himself. “Do not be afraid to answer the question, R U OK?” stated Matt. It can be the start-ing point for a person to speak about their problems or issues. 
Many people put on a façade, but being aware of the changes in friends, family and colleagues is a good step to introduce the question, R U OK? R U OK? Day should not just be acknowledged each year but should be taken on board every day.  mental health is real and is living within our community.  You cannot always see mental health, as it does come in various forms.  We need to ensure we look after each other, even more, during this pandemic. 
Mikey Thompson who is a professional Australia Post worker and Musician understands and has experienced the challenges which Mental Health presents and how hard it is to break the stigma, which is seen in most Males. Mikey has been a musician for a cover band for the past 5 years called Daily Notion. In January this year, the band had 20 shows booked and when COVID hit, it threw their plans out and affected their mental health. 
Men do find it hard to ask for help due to the high stigma, mental health is a big issue. Mikey experienced first-hand how this stigma plays, “I flushed my tablets down the toilet when I was first given them, I am not crazy, only crazy people take tablets.” Mikey stated. After some support from his family and the right connections, Mikey gave it another shot and it helped him to get into the right headspace, after battling exhaus-tion, insomnia, and depression. Mikey tried to stuff a 10Kg bag of his life into a 5Kg bag.  It just doesn’t work. COVID has played a massive part in everyone’s Mental Health in one way or another. COVID has given us two choices, to sit on the couch all day or to take it as an op-portunity to do the things we always wanted to do.
Mikey has started up a Mental Health platform called – Brotherhood against mental stigma.  The forum is to help the community to focus on the positive instead of the negative. 
Next time we are out shopping or see our neighbour, ask them if they are ok and ensure you follow up the conversation.  It could help more than you might think. 
Let’s Chat can be located on Facebook:
Brotherhood against mental stigma can be located on Facebook: or Instagram:
Beyond Blue is available 24/7 and provides an excellent service. Be-yond Blue can be contacted on 1300 22 4636. 
Remember, it is not weak to ask for help, it shows strength.