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A real mate is someone that is willing to make the time to genuinely listen to us.WITHOUT a network of true mates, we become susceptible to feelings of isolation and loneliness.Talk to a Mate®BY THE REGIONAL MEN’S HEALTH INITIATIVEThe message we give in everything we do is … before it all gets too much…Talk to a Mate®!As human beings we are fundamentally social in nature; staying connected and feeling valued for who we are is of primary importance to us. Talking to other people about issues in our lives or telling our stories helps us to normalise our experiences and realise we are not alone in having them. As blokes we tend to retreat into ourselves when things are turning pear shaped (cave time), much to the frustration of most women. This is the normal way men tend to start processing their problems.
Metaphorically stepping into the cave can be helpful to get a handle on things but it is important that we are able to acknowledge and recognise when it is time to step back out and seek the support we need. Having a plan already in place (that identifies who the mates are that we can turn to) is important. Without a network of true mates, we become susceptible to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
As blokes, we can recognise three main categories from where we find and establish real mateship. These exist usually in the forms of a partner (intimate relationship), a peer (someone around the same age that perhaps has a similar experience of lifestyle and activities to us) and a mentor (an older person whose lived experience we place value upon). A real mate is more than just an associate — it’s someone that knowingly respects and values who we are and is willing to make the time to genuinely listen to us. Think about who you would classify as a mate; and about the blokes you know who perhaps have few or none of these categories in their lives?
Often it is said that blokes in general don’t really like to talk about stuff — and if we disclose that we have a few problems someone will exploit our problem or weakness — but the reality is quite different. Given the right environment, where we feel safe, most men will willingly share their story and talk about issues that matter to them and there is real value in realising that there are other men experiencing the same things (no matter what the issue).
Being a good mate is about supporting a person in that space and genuinely listening to what they have to say.
We don’t have to be an expert or necessarily have any of the answers to people’s problems, just the ability to listen with empathy.
Being a good mate is also about actively looking out for the people we care about and acting when we recognise that something is not quite right. If we have a gut feel that someone we know is not travelling well, don’t be afraid to ask them how they are going and ask more than once!
As men we need to encourage help seeking behaviour and be prepared to be the one to Talk to a Mate®when we know he’s not travelling well and/or know that a mate is down or experiencing difficulties. It isn’t rocket science and it does work.
MORE INFORMATION The Regional Men’s Health Initiative delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)