Campaign for men’s mental health to travel nationwide
Grassroots campaign for men’s mental health to travel nationwide
Clinical Psychologist Sam O’Sullivan is hitting the road with fellow MindfulnessNZ creatives Elle Hocking, Phillip(e) Menoita, and Dane Scott to have a conversation with Kiwi men nationwide about mindfulness as a tool for good mental health.
The group is travelling by van to regions around the country, talking to communities and filming interviews with everyday New Zealand men. The conversation is about how Kiwi men already use mindfulness in their own unique ways – from getting into nature, to hard yards on the sports field, and how they can utilise this mindful skill in other parts of their lives. Sam is also teaching focused awareness in a separate videos series, which is all about how to be mindful actively in everyday life.
Sam trained at the University of Otago before starting his career at a rehabilitation centre for people with serious psychiatric disorders. He began teaching mindfulness to groups of patients and witnessed the powerful positive impact that teaching this skill can have. He also noticed that the majority of people in the hospital were men. He suspected that the culture of being a "stoic Kiwi bloke" was playing a role, as many of the men had not felt able to talk about their problems when they had started to develop, or had not been encouraged by others to do so.
Sam went on to work as private practitioner and found that his style again resonated with a broad range of Kiwi men, who sought him out for coaching and therapy. He continued to see the male culture in New Zealand playing a role in the problems his clients were facing. He also discovered that through activities like fishing, hunting, and running, many of the men had found their own ways to be mindful. When he worked with these men to translate this skill to other areas of their lives, he found that they no longer needed his support.
Sam says this journey around the country is about challenging the stereotype of the stoic Kiwi male, and exploring what true strength in modern New Zealand looks like. It’s also about raising awareness of mindfulness as a highly effective tool for good mental health.
“There has been great progress in New Zealand over the last few years in recognising mental health issues, and taking away the stigma. However accessing good support can be difficult, with limited funding available”.
“It’s often expensive for people to see a psychologist or counsellor, and wait lists can be long. So straight away there’s a barrier – even for those who are willing to seek help”.
“When we started this project, we were clear that we wanted to create a free and readily accessible toolkit for Kiwi men of all ages. Even better, once you learn mindfulness as a skill, it’s yours for life,” says Sam.
To follow the conversation and access free tools for learning mindfulness visit www.mindfulnessnz.co.nz.
To support the MindfulnessNZ crowdfunding campaign visit https://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/mindfulness-in-nz