Tackling Men’s Mental Health – The Banksia Project

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Join The Banksia Project in improving the mental health of men in your community! Register as either a Program Facilitator or Participant!

A Growth Room consists of around 10 men in the community meeting once a month, for two hours (usually 6:30pm – 8:30pm) to support one another and connect. The Banksia Project has trained locals to facilitate these programs and support other blokes. The group support one another whilst also learning practical tools to improve health and wellness ie. Diet, Sleep, Exercise, Mindfulness, Basic CBT (all designed by mental health professionals). The program takes participants beyond awareness, giving them practical skills that will improve their wellbeing. They are safe spaces for men to be open, honest and vulnerable with one another.

Our trained Facilitators are peers. Everyday blokes that put their hands up to support others in their community. Mates supporting Mates, Blokes for blokes. This means our messaging goes deeper, it is peer-based and peer-led. We put our facilitators through a day of training to empower them to identify mental health challenges and risks in individuals and Mental Health First Aid as well as understanding their own health and wellness.  Our Facilitators then have on-call support from a clinical psychologist for each session, as well as a compulsory de-brief with a psychologist. This clinical oversight is to ensure both participants and facilitators are safe.

These Growth Rooms are scattered in different locations. All we need is two trained Facilitators from a particular location, then we can launch a Growth Room!

“We train champions in the community to actually run our programs. It’s all peer-to-peer stuff,” explains Jack Jones, who runs the program for The Banksia Project.

“The guys connect with each other over two hours, they support each other through any challenges they may be going through, and our facilitators also deliver some really practical skills that these guys can learn to improve their health and wellness.”

“Some of these topics are things like how important it is to exercise, but they also look at mental wellness topics, for example, how to deal with forgiveness, how to effectively communicate with a partner or loved one, how to deal with emotions safely and effectively. Really practical skills that these guys in the program can go and implement.”

There are currently 200 men accessing 14 Growth Rooms in Sydney, with a further five more to launch in the next fortnight. There is also a Growth Room in Orange, in the central west region of NSW, and Dubbo, in the Orana Region.

The Banksia Project has plans to expand into Melbourne and Canberra in the next six months, and is “passionate about developing rural programs,” says Jack.

“Our programs aren’t just for people with mental health issues, they are for people who are well also,” says Jack. “The whole point is to actually prevent a crisis rather and to give guys the tools beforehand. If people are struggling, they are still welcome to attend but we make sure they are seeking professional help if they have complex mental health challenges.

“For our facilitators, we are looking for people who have three hours spare. That’s all it takes to run one of our Growth Rooms. We like to take people who are mentally stable. A lot of people want to help but may not be in the best position to with their own mental health and wellness. That can be a danger to either themselves or the group, so we try to make sure people are healthy and well before giving them the responsibility of running one of these growth rooms.”

Head to our website for more information: www.thebanksiaproject.org.au or contact Program Director Jack Jones on 0431204579



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