Providing Dads With MoMENtum
There was an unusually male-sounding buzz coming from Santa Maria on Wednesday night. Ninety dads gathered in the Community Room for conversation, drinks and an outstanding presentation by Dr Brett Dellar. It was the first Men of Santa event of the year and it was a great experience for all present.
Brett Dellar is a speaker, health and wellness advocate, Beyond Blue ambassador and life coach. His business, MonMENtum, addresses the mental health issues that impact the lives of men, with a particular focus on depression and suicide.
Brett is a chiropractor, so his professional interest in health and wellbeing is obvious, however, it is his 30-year struggle with depression that makes his story and messages so compelling.
Early in life, Brett was taught to wear a ‘man-mask’, as so many of our boys and men are. Despite abuse as a child he wore a mask that said, “I’m okay” and he didn’t share his story or his pain with anyone. This tough exterior was exaggerated by his time in the police force where that tough exterior is so necessary and valued.
Two years ago, Brett became involved with an organisation called, Real Education. At one of their courses he was asked by a friend and mentor, “Aren’t you sick of being in pain?” It was the turning point in Brett’s life. He went on to tell his story and begin the healing process. He acknowledges that it wasn’t easy. He says, “It was a rollercoaster. Old Brett was dead but new Brett was yet to be born.”
In the two years since Brett first owned his story, he has become a passionate advocate for men. He wants more men to have the opportunity to live a full life. He sees his biggest obstacle as the stigma that exists for men about appearing weak. There is a very strong and clear narrative around who a man should be for himself and for those around him.
When asked what men can do to benefit their mental health, Brett gave these four very clear steps:
- Be brutally honest and acknowledge if a problem exists. He says we all have a story and we are all a little bit broken.
- Make a decision to get help.
- Ask for help and accept that help.
- Take action. He recommends a timeline of fewer than six months.
What that action might be will vary from person to person. Men need to find what works for them, whether it be a psychologist, men’s groups, confiding in close friends or attending a weekend course like the one Brett offers.
He also asks men to learn to listen carefully to one another. “Ask the right questions and then shut up and let them talk. Don’t interrupt. Encourage them and support them, but leave the talking to them.”
Brett says the key to men’s health is men finding balance. He says, “We need our bloke time. It’s important to spend time with your mates and do blokey stuff, but we need to acknowledge that we can’t be that all the time. We need to step back and connect meaningfully with our families and friends.”