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Your health with Dr Brian Ironwood

Dr Brian Ironwood, the manly man behind the Man Therapy campaign.

He’s not a real Doctor, but he is a real man

He might not be a registered practitioner, but Dr Brian Ironwood is helping men throughout Australia to take charge of their mental health and improve their wellbeing as the face of the beyondblue’s new Man Therapy campaign.

The Retiree asked Dr Brian Ironwood about his involvement in the campaign. His answers may be surprising, but they clearly demonstrate why he was chosen as the face of Man Therapy.

You are obviously pretty comfortable in your own skin. What makes you the ideal spokesperson for Man Therapy?

Let me put it this way. Men sometimes can’t see the tree for woods. So I hike into those woods, I find that tree and rip it from the ground with my bare hands. Then I carry it back to the front of those woods and in broad, clear daylight, I hold that tree up high for all men to see.

Why do you think men are less likely to seek treatment?

Men are good at hiding stuff: not just in their shed but in their brain too. So, the best way to get that stuff out of there is to coax men into having a good old chin wag about how they feel. It’s not sissy; it’s the manliest thing a man can do.

Is getting help for depression and anxiety as easy as hitting a 4-iron?

Going to my website is a good place to start. Doing that makes the first step easier. When they find it’s nowhere near as tough as wrestling a salt water croc they are more likely to do my mind quiz and then seek the right help or make the right adjustments to their game plan.

Once men start dealing with their depression and anxiety does it mean they are going to be seeing a therapist or be on medication for the rest of their lives?

No, no, no. For some men taking the first step and yakking to someone they trust about their depression or anxiety and tackling the issues is enough. For those who need professional help, there are many treatment options from talking therapies to medication – the idea is to find the treatment that works for you. You really need to see my site, it’s all there friend!

You obviously love your golf? How important is it to your mental health?

Swinging the old 4 iron really does good for my brain and body and helps me to stay sane – even if I have a crappy game, which I often do, it’s good to get out and belt those balls. So a pastime is important to relax, have some fun and put a perspective on our lives. See the activities section of my site, it’s we’ll worth a look.

“Men are good at hiding stuff: not just in their shed but in their brain too.”

What are some ideas for hobbies you recommend men have a go at?

Mountain climbing, growing a moustache and riding a wild stallion are all excellent manly pursuits. But, so too is cooking, ping pong and sudoku. If you find what you like I guarantee you’ll like what you find out about yourself.

When a man is not feeling great in himself, at what point should he seek help?

There are many clues that men should take notice of, such as – no longer enjoying the things you normally would. Being unable to do things that others take for granted, being unable to function at work or home, getting upset at small things, struggling with eating or sleeping, needing alcohol or other drugs to get your through the day. The longer this goes on the more they rob you of your life and relationships. The more of these issues you have, the more likely you are to need the help of a professional person rather than a pretend doctor like me. But do my Mind Quiz and find out if you have anything to worry about. Chances are it’s something that you can talk over with a friend or partner. So, tackle those issues head high, you won’t even get reported.

“There are many clues that men should take notice of, such as – no longer enjoying the things you normally would.”

In Australia, one in eight men are likely to experience depression in their lifetime and one in five men are likely to experience anxiety. While this figure is lower than the rate of women, men are three times more likely to die by suicide than females.

Research shows the social norms of masculinity play an important role in the gender differences of suicide with men generally not recognising or responding to their negative emotions. Man Therapy is beyondblue’s new multi-million dollar campaign funded by the Federal Government in a bid to tackle this issue. The campaign is the first of its kind in Australia and is based on a similar program launched in the US last year. Its aim is to give men a place to deal with manly issues in a manly way by reducing the stigma of depressing and providing an avenue and opportunity to seek help.

beyondblue Chairman Jeff Kennett says it’s difficult for many men to admit they have depression or anxiety because they associate it with weakness. “We know Australian men can think that having these conditions means they are not being strong enough to handle the issues in their life,” he says. “Men can see support-seeking as a failure, but in fact it is the right and manly thing to do. “If men do not understand the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, they are unlikely to know when the crisis point is reached. “The fact is,” Mr Kennett says, “even the strongest men can and do develop depression or anxiety in the same way that they can develop a physical illness, but life can improve dramatically with the right action.”

Like Kennett, beyondblue Chief Executive Officer Kate Carnell AO says the Man Therapy campaign incorporates real-life stories of recovery, linking physical symptoms to emotional issues with a focus on conversational language.

“We hope that will be effective in bringing men up to speed about depression and anxiety and give them a way to discuss it with friends,” she said. “Dr Brian Ironwood is a quintessentially Aussie bloke, but unlike many blokes, he understands the importance of good mental health.“

Dr Brian Ironwood does not consult by appointment – in fact, no appointment is necessary. To find out more about Man Therapy, go to Dr Brian Ironwood’s blokey approach is sure to surprise, but his message comes across loud and clear.