Television and radio personality Gus Worland visited the area last week as part of the Tough Enough program.

Mr Worland was the host of ABC’s Man Up docuseries and, along with his wife Vicky, founded the Gotcha4Life organisation.

On Wednesday last week, he spoke at Wee Waa’s Imperial Hotel at an event delivered by the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) and funded by the Cotton Country Kids Calendar.

RAMHP coordinator, Letitia Cross, spoke alongside Mr Worland at the event.

She discussed the importance of looking after ourselves, in order to be able to offer help to our loved ones when they need it.

“It’s just not possible to look after your friends, family, community or business if you’re mentally drained,” she said.

Ms Cross believes the event was a great opportunity for rural people to engage in important conversations surrounding mental health.

“In the country, we’re used to facing adversity,” she said.

“So events like this, that hone in on mental wellbeing, are so vital – the feedback we’ve heard from the people of Wee Waa has just been amazing.”

The community-sponsored event provided a platform to learn more on the topic, with Mr Worland passing on his learning from Man Up.

“All I’m here to do is pass on the things I’ve learnt about mental fitness through my experience, in hope that it helps people open that important dialogue,” he said.

“I certainly don’t want to come into these towns and act like I know everything on the subject.”

Mr Worland also explained these kinds of conversations can be uncomfortable for some, particularly men and especially if they’re from the country.

“Women are usually very good at sharing, but if you’re a man who was never taught those skills, it can be really hard,” he said.

“So instead, Aussie blokes tend to bottle up any real emotion and rely on banter.

“What we want to do, is help them move beyond the banter into more meaningful conversations.”

Mr Worland said that these conversations might be awkward at first, but the alternative is far worse.

“We’re losing nine men and three women to suicide every single day – and those numbers are even higher among the older generations and indigenous Australians – things need to change,” he said.

That’s where his not-for-profit, Gotcha4Life, comes in.

“Loneliness is the catalyst of poor mental fitness, and it drives a lot of people to take their own lives,” he said.

“But I believe everyone has at least one person – a friend or family member – who has their back no matter what, someone who’s got you for life.”

Mr Worland explained that, too often, people simply dismiss the mental health conversation as being “too big to tackle”.

He encourages you to start small, with the people you’ve got for life.

“Establish your crew, the people closest to you, and start there,” Mr Worland said.

“Open the conversation, check on your loved ones and make sure they know you’ll be there if they ever need to talk.”

He said that listening is the biggest part of this process.

“We have two ears and one mouth, so we should always be trying to listen more than we speak when someone in crisis opens up to us,” Mr Worland said.

He hopes that by encouraging local people to be “open, honest and vulnerable”, he can help improve how our region approaches the subject of mental fitness.

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