The place was a small country town in far north western NSW. A population of around 1500 people. The pub represented the towns past glory; 50 rooms and taking up the best part of the town’s main street.
We were in town to conduct a men’s health night. All of NSW and most of Australia for that matter was in the savage and relentless grip of the hope sapping millennium drought.
Sixty men turned-up. Akubra hats and R M Williams boots all round. Crushing handshakes and really unique nick names. One bloke introduced himself and his son, “G’day Nev, they call me Ballbag and this here is my son, Sack” he said with a droll voice which was as dry as the drought. I was busting to ask him how he got his nickname, but didn’t, just in case he showed me.
Time to start. They’d been promised a fun night out even though men’s health is a serious topic. I told a story about a bloke back home who was mowing his lawns - a member of the audience yelled out “What are lawns?” When the laughter died down, I continued. “The bloke mowing his lawns had to stop every few metres to catch his breath and wait for the pain in his chest to abate before he could continue with the mowing.”
I then posed the rhetorical question “Fellas, guess what this bloke needed to do?” I paused for effect. I shouldn’t have paused. A hand went up. Someone at the back of the room had the answer, yep it was Ballbag. He said in his dry drawl, “Ole mate needs to go to the doctors to get a prescription for a %$# ride on mower!” His answer rocked the pub’s foundations.
Here in the depth of a drought men of outback NSW were laughing. What a tonic.
In the ag business we are the business; it’s a personal relationship business. We can change shirts from blue to green and most of our clients will follow us. This also means that if we fall over, our businesses are at risk of falling over too.
Why a focus on men’s’ health in country areas? Here are the death discrepancies between males and females in different age groups.
0 - 14 age group
· Suicide 400% higher than females
· Car Accidents 214% higher than females
· Drugs 83% higher than females
· Accidents 266% higher. than females
Of a study involving 10,000 people only 38% of those with a mental disorder sought help. Of that 38 % only 28% of men sought help and men in rural Australia only 11% of men sought help!
Stubbornness and pride can kill us.
The men in the room laugh at seeing the sign. When their laughter stops, I let the silence underscore the seriousness consequences of men not asking for help.
I then ask the audience to stand and take the ‘I’ll ask for help’ oath. I get them to grab their private parts with their right hands and raise their left hands like they’re in a court witness box. I then get them to repeat
Being in the ag business in a prolonged dry spell is difficult. We care about our clients and often we can catch their moods. There is no need to struggle alone. Help is all around us, we just need to ask.
If this article has raised any concerns, please contact your local GP or phone Lifeline 13 11 14, or if you’re concerned about someone in your business you can give me a call.