FORMER chaplain of the West Coast Eagles Paul Morrison was the guest speaker at a Mundaring men’s mental health and wellbeing support group earlier this month.
Mr Morrison was the main attraction for the support group, Mundaring MATES, and answered questions about his life, mental health, and some of the challenges faced by the professional athletes he had worked with over his time with the club.
The free event was held on Wednesday night, November 1, at the Mundaring Church of Christ and was organised by Doug Cornish.
Dinner is provided as part of the event, and after the speaker attendees are encouraged to stay and, if they’d like, to talk to one another about their own challenges.
Mr Cornish, an active member in numerous community support and sporting groups throughout the shire, began Mundaring MATES two years ago, and since then has organised four events featuring prominent speakers including singer-songwriter John Callaghan, and most recently Mr Morrison.
While he is a man of faith himself, Mr Cornish said that the aim of the group isn’t to preach but rather to help men who are having problems to get talking, open up, and hopefully improve their mental health and wellbeing.
“Some people are just afraid to open up, which is fine, people don’t have to open up, but they can listen to others and that can even privately encourage them to think about changing their mindset or behaviour,” he said.
Mr Cornish said the reason the group is specifically for men is because, especially for those of the older generations, they tend to hold in their emotions in an unhealthy way.
Mr Cornish said the reason he only hosts two events a year is to give attendees adequate time to form connections outside of the meetings with other men, and not to overwhelm those who attend often.
Kim Tester, along with several of his friends, has attended all four of the support group’s events and enjoyed Mr Morrison’s talk, but said the interactions with other attendees are why he keeps coming back.
“I’ve come to every one of them because I found it was a great way to meet different people I had met in the past, or we had crossed paths through friends and relatives.
“To go to a place like MATES and meeting people who might be in the fire brigade or in the footy club. I’ve met five or six people who I hadn’t seen in over 20 years,” he said.
The next Mundaring MATES meetup will be held on April 24 next year.