More than 200 people gathered in Camden to discuss the importance of men being open about their mental health on Friday.
The inaugural Lifeline Macarthur Men’s Long Lunch sold out at Upstairs at Fred’s. Lifeline Macarthur CEO Brad Hannagan said he was “over the moon” with the response from both men and women.
He said the event helped men discuss their own mental health with others.
“We’ve started talking about it and we need to keep that momentum going,” he said.
“It’s not a sign of weakness to talk about your health, it’s a sign of strength.”
Wests Tigers club legend John Skandalis and Harrington Park boxing star Daniel Geale were special guests at the long lunch.
Mr Skandalis and Mr Geale took part in a question and answer session with attendees.
Mr Geale told the Advertiser he hoped the message of men being able to discuss their mental health was “getting out there”.
“It’s always tough to bring up these topics and speaking about your feelings,” he said.
“I’ve been pretty lucky because sport has kept me grounded. I battled with anxiety growing up but I managed to control it through boxing.”
Currans Hill resident Craig Kitson said he had learnt to be more open about discussing his feelings.
“I had a colleague who recently committed suicide,” he said.
“I’m 48 years old and statistics show that suicide is the biggest killer in my age group.
“Events like the men’s long lunch are a huge help.
“It might feel like we’re not doing much, but if we all help out it can make a difference.”
Mr Kitson said he had previously worked with disadvantaged youth and mental health was an issue for men of all ages.
“I’ve worked a lot with kids who self harm or had suicide attempts,” he said.
“If they thought they had a trusted person to speak to, they might have spoken up about how they felt.”
The long lunch was held in support of Lifeline Macarthur.
Event highlights included live entertainment, a silent auction and a free blood pressure check for men.
A final long lunch fundraising tally wasn’t available at the time of going to print.