Victorian men receive a mental health boost during lockdown


An online mental health and wellbeing hub “designed by men for men” is being offered free to eligible Bupa members[1] in Victoria at a time when not many men are using traditional wellbeing support programs despite facing growing mental health challenges triggered by the social and financial impacts of COVID-19.

This initiative is being delivered in partnership with Australian mental health solution provider Mindstar and digital innovator Go1, and will include a ‘wellbeing check tool’ and the MAN CHAT interview series with celebrity figures such as former AFL champion Dale Thomas and Gold Logie winning actor Samuel Johnson OAM. The Men’s Wellbeing Hub will be available for free to eligible Bupa members from 19 August until 2 October 2020.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health problems have been revealed as at least twice as prevalent as in non-pandemic circumstances[1], a statistic which is of significant concern amongst men who account for more than 75% of all Australian suicides[2].

Bupa Australia & New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Hisham El-Ansary said these tools are aimed at building resilience and wellbeing amongst men in their homes.

“Now more than ever, supporting mental health is key priority for Bupa. There are well-documented concerns highlighting that men are less likely to access available mental health support[3].

“There is no shame, and we need to cast aside the stigma associated with men seeking help. This is important everywhere, but particularly in Victoria right now, where we are providing free access to flexible, self-directed Men’s Wellbeing Hub over this challenging 6-week period.” Mr El-Ansary said.

The Men’s Wellbeing Hub includes learning resources on topics such as maintaining mental fitness, dealing with isolation, fatherhood, how to stress-less and social connection. These have been identified as essential elements of everyday life which have changed dramatically during COVID-19.

Mindstar CEO Aaron Williams said the mission is to give Victorian blokes a little extra hope and purpose in what many are finding a stressful and sometimes overwhelming time.

“With Victorian men living in lockdown, we are starting to see the negative impact that this is having on their wellbeing and mental health. Many blokes are feeling exhausted, frustrated and on-edge.

“For whatever reason, Aussie men often don’t access traditional mental health support services when they need it. The Men’s Wellbeing Hub is different. It is made by men, for men and gives blokes the practical tools in their toolbelt to deal with this crisis.

“The MAN CHAT interview series is about having raw, honest conversations with blokes like Samuel Johnson and Daisy Thomas about some of their hard times and talking about how Aussie men can improve their own wellbeing and resilience,” Mr Williams said.

Go1 has long championed the importance of mental health, both at workplaces and in the community. The organisation sees technology, especially the online delivery of programs, as central to education and lifelong learning.

Go1 co-founder and CEO Andrew Barnes said the initiative will play an important role in helping Victorian men through these unprecedented times of heightened stress and anxiety.

“We’d like to encourage men to make full use of this free initiative - help us help you make your mental health and wellbeing a priority.

“In our observation, men have often viewed depression and anxiety as a sign of weakness, but together with Bupa and Mindstar, we want to offer them a safe place where they can feel comfortable enough to reach out for support and make a difference to their wellbeing,” Dr Barnes said.

This announcement is the latest initiative Bupa has undertaken to support the mental health of Australians. Recently the Bupa Health Foundation provided more than $2 million in funding to Kids Helpline to boost projects that support the mental health of young Australians. This includes the My Circle digital platform and the Kids Helpline@School program.

Bupa is also the first Australian health insurer to offer eligible members a suite of clinically proven Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) courses with a guaranteed 100 per cent rebate upon course completion through their Extras cover.

For more information or to join the Men’s Wellbeing Hub visit here.

[1] https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2020/mental-health-people-australia-first-month-covid-19-restrictions-national-survey

[2] https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/FlagPost/2019/June/Mens_health

[3] https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/1-facts_figures.pdf

Media reference number: 20/085