With the number of men taking their own lives on Sydney’s northern beaches growing in the last 12 months, Andrew Ward, a sales manager at Konica Minolta, decided something needed to be done to raise awareness and funds for mental health.
He and a group of friends came up with the Head Above Water 24-hour swimathon which will be held on March 16 to 17 in Collaroy Rock Pool with all funds raised supporting mental health initiatives across the Northern Beaches.
Swimmers of any level are welcome to enter and do as many laps as they feel comfortable with in a time period of their choosing with all funds going to Gotcha4Life, a mental health charity set up by Triple M breakfast radio host Gus Worland.
Ward says it is not widely known that suicide on the northern beaches is quite high, compared to the rest of NSW, with between 30 and 40 mainly men taking their lives last year.
He also knows what it is like to experience hard times with mental health after his wife was diagnosed with cancer and many of his friends battled their own mental demons but felt there were not a lot of options to seek help.
“I started thinking what could I do that would be a real point of difference in the mental health space due to my own experience and other people that have gone through this because it is a really dysfunctional system,” Ward said.
“Essentially we are a bunch of mates who have gotten together to raise funds to positively effect mental health on the northern beaches.”
He hopes the event, which costs $30 to enter and from there a personal fundraising page can be created, will raise awareness and funds for programmes to help men see that old stereotypes of being a man are no longer in play.
Konica Minolta are also getting behind the initiative and will be fielding a team in the event.
The money raised by the Head Above Water 24-hour swimathon will support the work being done by Gotcha4Life. Gotcha4Life’s mission is to improve the mental health of men and boy’s throughout Australia and save lives through better connections with friends, family and community.
Thanks to Gotcha4Life, you’ll be helping to fund mental health initiatives across the Northern Beaches, including Tomorrow Man and Lifeline.
“It (Tomorrow Man) is all about male stereotypes and what did they look like in the past and what do they look like in the future and trying to break down that ‘man code’,” he said.
“Men have a bad habit of not talking to people, while women tend to talk about things more over a coffee or a cup of tea.”
To enter the Head Above Water swim please visit https://www.headabovewater.com.au/ and fill in the registration page. More information about Gotcha4Life please visit https://www.gotcha4life.org/
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