• Eugene McGarrell

Men, you want to save lives? Then it's time to talk!

“Men don’t talk”. How many times have I heard that statement? Or, “men don’t talk about their feelings”. Another myth.


The narrative is pervasive. I am told “we suppress our feelings”. Do we?


As a man I think I have no problem in expressing how I feel. I wonder if I am different from other men and whether I should be less expressive to fall into the narrative.

We talk... but do we listen?

Then it dawned on me. We talk... but do we listen?


This week I sat in a pub with my best mates. Other men I have known for up to 18 years. I sat there with my sparkling mineral water (sober curious phase of my life) talking about everything except how we felt. I have been through a significant life change, one of my friends had a mildly worrying health diagnosis and another had just survived a contract negotiation that could have ended his entrepreneurial ambitions.

Despite these opportunities to explore the emotional impact we skimmed the facts, boxed off our responses with logic and moved onto the safe subject of the day “could the Sharks beat the Manly Eagles at Brookvale?”

Despite these opportunities to explore the emotional impact we skimmed the facts, boxed off our responses with logic and moved onto the safe subject of the day “could the Sharks beat the Manly Eagles at Brookvale?”. (The answer was NO).


So, we can talk, but it seems only to a point.


Recently I agreed to participate in the Banksia Project and train as a facilitator for a Growth Room. I am so glad I put my hand up. These young social entrepreneurs saw a need and came together to provide a network of groups where men can open up and share their emotions. It’s a simple idea but as it turns out an effective one.

Being in a room where I practice the art of listening to other men’s emotions and share my own has opened my eyes.

As a facilitator I am also a participant of a growth room. Being in a room where I practice the art of listening to other men’s emotions and share my own has opened my eyes. We are capable of talking about our feeling, we are capable of listening to our fellow man and we are capable of emerging from the process with a new zest for life.


So, how do we bring that into mainstream life? How do we open up while we are grilling snags on the barbie, or over a scooner of pale ale or during the half time show of the footie?

...we are capable of listening to our fellow man and we are capable of emerging from the process with a new zest for life.

Maybe we do it conversation by conversation? Maybe we just listen with curiosity to our mate who flippantly mentions they are worried about their health, their relationship with their kids, their work or their financial situations? One thing is for sure, if there are 4 blokes having a drink at the bar, at least one of them will be struggling.

...if there are 4 blokes having a drink at the bar, at least one of them will be struggling.

For me the greatest gift is connection. Just connecting with my mates is a tonic. And I am sure with the experience I gain from the Growth Room I can become a better listener.


The media is highlighting the crisis that exists in men’s mental health at this time. 6 men in Australia will take their lives today and every day until we do something to end this crisis. We can each start by listening to our mates and sharing our own emotions.

For me the greatest gift is connection. Just connecting with my mates is a tonic.

The Banksia Project are looking for more facilitators and participants. I am glad I took that first step, I am sure you will be too. We can save lives, conversation by conversation.


To register for a Growth Room visit: thebanksiaproject.org.au/growth-rooms or call Jack Jones on 0431 204 579

We can save lives, conversation by conversation.
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