Victorian clubs improving mental health

September 6, 2023
Jane Louise

Victorian clubs in Ballarat and Anglesea are supporting awareness of men’s mental health through innovative Fathers’ Day and bowls events.

The Anglesea Bowling Club will hold its first ‘Bowl For Your Lives’ event on 16 September, to raise money for the Black Dog Institute. The club was inspired to host this after president Ben Coyle attended the inaugural Bowl For Your Lives event, at the Lara Bowling Club, earlier this year.

This event is intended to showcase how lawn bowls clubs and the sport itself can be a safe space for those suffering from mental health issues, and was created by two former police officers, Shane Hafner and Cameron Ryan, who have partnered with the clubs.

“Bowls clubs tend to be quite internally focused, and we do a number of bare foot bowls to raise funds, but what do we need the extra money for, how can we give back to the community,” Mr Coyle said.

Bowl For Your Lives will be an all-day event, starting with breakfast at 9am and hosting games, raffles and social bowls.

In contrast, Ballarat Greyhound Racing Club (Ballarat Greyhounds), in partnership with SportsBet, chose to raise funds for Ballarat Men’s Mental Health (BMMH).

This club held a Father’s Day celebration with a father-son pool competition, a dad joke competition, 12 greyhound races and children’s activities.

The celebration was part of a larger fundraising campaign held throughout August, where Ballarat Greyhounds donated $50 and Sportsbet donated $250 to BMMH each time a number four blue dog won a race.

General Manager of Ballarat Greyhound Racing Club, Jodie Faralla, said “One of my male family members has faced mental health challenges, and I’ve witnessed firsthand how organisations like BMMH can provide invaluable support not just to those grappling with mental health but also to their families”.

BMMH is a non-profit organisation providing counselling to men aged 25 to 60. Founded in 2019, its focus is early intervention. BMMH sees the importance in clubs for men who otherwise might not engage with mental health services.

BMMH believes events such as these highlight the importance of open conversations surrounding men’s mental health and creating strong natural connections.

While the two approaches are very different, the motivations for each have been to address an urgent need within the clubs’ communities. Each club has been touched by unfortunate events within the respective communities and hold a strong desire to support club locals.

The clubs each provide a place for support without the stigma often associated with poor mental health.

The Black Dog Institute advises that one in five Australians will experience a mental health condition within the year, with 60 per cent of those not seeking help.


Tags

Anglesea Bowling Club, awareness, Ballarat Greyhounds, men, mental health, Victoria


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