Woman’s Day cares about men's mental health.
These heroes are encouraging other men to get the help they need.
Tony Toholke has always struggled with his mental health. It was something he kept bottled up until 2018, when things reached a crisis point and he began to plan the end of his life. His wife Ranita and a friend intervened at the last minute and took him straight to hospital. “They saved my life that day,” Tony, 51, tells Woman’s Day. “I had a plan ready to go but they knew something was off.” As a self-confessed “high-functioning alcoholic”, Tony says he used to self-medicate after experiencing mental health struggles throughout his life. The contract manager from Mount Isa, Queensland, has been sharing his story with men across Australia to show there’s no shame in talking. “To ‘man up’ is to ‘speak up’… just reach out and talk, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” says Tony. Despite hospital treatment, the former labourer said his depression continued to spiral and his suicidal thoughts remained. That was before he discovered TradeMutt (read more right) and took part in a three-month wellbeing program, which has made a huge difference to his mental health. “I can’t believe the influence this is having. I know a lot of blokes who have sent messages thanking me for what I do,” he smiles. “I was given the tools to manage myself, how to take stock of where I’m at, change my view of the world and realise it’s not as bad as I think it is.”
Two Brisbane tradies have stepped up to help their own with the launch of a new confidential helpline providing mental health support for truckies, blue-collar workers and their families. Daniel Allen said the loss of his close friend in 2015 to suicide made him realise more needed to be done. “Dan’s death was the catalyst,” Daniel, 33, tells Woman’s Day. With statistics indicating those who work in trades and construction have some of the highest suicide rates in Australia among men, Daniel and his friend Ed Ross, 29, knew they needed to help spark the conversation. In 2020, the duo set up TIACS (This Is A Conversation Starter) – a free chat, text and callback service monitored by trained counsellors. “We understand the stoic nature of most tradies,” says Daniel, a former carpenter. “We’re seeing our families and friends change their tone. Loads of old blokes have got on board and are loving it!” The service is funded through their social workwear business, TradeMutt – a funky workshirt that includes a QR code linking to the TIACS helpline.
Signs to look out for
- Changes in behaviour or feelings
- Substance abuse
- Losing interest in activities you or they usually enjoy
- Weight or appetite changes
- Sleep problems
- Thoughts of suicide, self harm or harm to others