MATE Sessions return

Coaches Mick Murphy and Jarrod Burnett from CrossFit United Bundaberg will host the MATE Sessions. Picture: TAHLIA FACER

By Tahlia Facer

Talking about our mental health and emotional wellbeing can be challenging, and finding the right time and place to open up about one’s struggles can sometimes seem impossible.

That’s why Mick and Megan Murphy are removing the stigma and reigniting the MATE Sessions that were previously held at their gym pre-pandemic.

MATE Sessions started in early 2020 as a way for men to catch up, take part in a short and simple workout together, and get chatting.

Many found it an easy way to get things off their chest and connect with friends, however Covid put a stop to the sessions shortly after they began.

The recent passing of a former MATE Sessions participant has shocked the community into action once again, highlighting the importance of mateship and connection that was stripped away when Covid swept the globe.

“While men don’t often talk about their struggles, women do, and I couldn’t tell you the amount of women I’ve spoken to recently who have said their husbands or partners are struggling with their mental health at the moment,” Megan said.

“Sean was a regular participant of the MATE Sessions and while we are hurting as a community, it has motivated us to get things happening again.”

“It doesn’t even have to be a workout, we just want to facilitate an opportunity for men to catch up, have a chat, and feel like they have people they can talk to should they feel comfortable to do that.

“We’ve thrown around ideas about a golf day, barefoot bowls or a barbecue lunch at the beach, anything that gives them that chance of opening up and feeling supported to do so. We don’t want it to be an intimidating experience for those who don’t necessarily want to do a workout.”

Mick said it was important for men to open up about their mental health.

“We need to start getting men chatting more about how they’re feeling and not bottling all that stuff up inside,” he said.

“It’s very common, myself included, over the years I’ve bottled up too much stuff instead of letting it out and it is bad for your health in the long run.”

Mick encouraged anyone who wanted to come in and have a chat or participate in a workout to head along on August 14.

“Don’t be anxious, because we’re all a little bit anxious in our own weird and wonderful way,” he said.

“The hardest part probably for most people is going to be walking in the door. Just turn up, get yourself out of your comfort zone. You won’t regret it.”

While the event is tailored towards people who might be going through a rough time, the sessions are also great if you’re wanting to be a listening ear and help support others through their challenges.

Sean’s wife Rachael is urging men to get involved before it’s too late.

“People die from mental health problems when they cannot connect to meaningful support. That’s the reality,” she said.

“The system didn’t help Sean, and neither did the mental health apps, but the MATE Sessions did. We want everyone, every man in our community to feel welcome at these catch ups.”

She said there needed to be an open discussion about mental health stigma and profiling around who suffers from mental health struggles.

“Some people don’t feel worthy of mental health support or they feel that their struggles don’t count,” Rachael said.

“People with money, a home, family and love can still be severely impacted by suicidal thoughts, not just low socioeconomic, drug users, homeless and jobless people.”

The Murphy duo is calling on local businesses to support the sessions by sponsoring one of the monthly events.

“We are really just looking for more community involvement,” Megan said.

“We’ve already got Kuskey’s Butcher Shoppe and Hair Synergy on board to sponsor the post-workout breakfast, which is amazing.

“We’re happy to organise it and keep it running, but we’re just looking for a bit of variation and would love for other businesses to come forward and host a catch up.”

The first MATE Session of 2022 will be held on Sunday, August 14 at 8am at CrossFit United, located at 38 Electra Street, Bundaberg behind Nana’s Pantry.

A mental health spokesperson and additional resources will also be available at each session.

If possible, RSVP to the Facebook event at bit.ly/MATEsessions