Popular men’s mental health advocate speaks on Mid North Coast

Mary O’Brien of ‘Are you bogged Mate?’ spoke in Macksville last week.

“EVERY ten days an Australian farmer takes his own life,” said Mary O’Brien, who gave a series of workshops across the Mid North Coast last week in support of the mental health of rural men.

Ms O’Brien of ‘Are you bogged mate?’, a Queensland-based organisation and website providing support for rural men, spoke at the Macksville Ex-services Club on Monday 20 May.

Foodworks Supermarket MacksvilleAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us – media@newsofthearea.com.au

On Tuesday she was heading to Bellingen and later Grafton to continue the discussions, which were organised by North Coast Local Land Services.

Though few men attended the event in Macksville, Ms O’Brien’s message was an important one for all who live in rural areas.

According to her, 76 percent of all suicides in Australia are men and suicide is the leading cause of death for Aussie men between the ages of fifteen and 44.

Eighty percent of these men do not have a diagnosable medical condition.

Men are three to four times more likely to kill themselves than women and the further you move away from the coast into rural areas, the more this ratio grows.

Ms O’Brien compared the depression experienced by farmers and rural men in general to ‘getting bogged’ which, as she explained, is a common occurrence for country people in the wet season.

“You don’t just set fire to the machine you’ve bogged and walk away.”

She advocates that this is exactly when you will need to ask a mate for help.

Ms O’Brien educated the workshop attendees on some of the worrying signs to look out for in loved ones which may signal that suicide is being considered.

“If you see someone cleaning out their shed and giving away important things to others, suddenly stopping an activity that was previously important to them, like playing football, or withdrawing from friends and family, these may be signs that someone is bogged,” she said.

Ms O’Brien highlighted that men and women are different in the way they speak about problems, with men preferring to talk about facts rather than feelings and positioning themselves shoulder-to-shoulder while women are more likely to face each other.

“A great place to talk with teenage boys is sitting in a vehicle,” she suggested, “where you don’t have to be looking at each other.

“You can have the best conversations that way,” she said.

Ms O’Brien reminded her listeners that men need ‘man-time’ away with mates or on their own.

“And it usually involves a fire,” she said.

“Don’t feel guilty for doing what’s best for you,” she explained.

“Men are programmed to want to take care of their family and look after others, but they have to look after themselves first.”

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 45 people took their lives in the area from Kempsey to the Nambucca Valley between 2018 and 2022, a total that is one of the highest in New South Wales.


Leave a Reply