Admitting to feelings of stress is still difficult for men, but Cade Brown is doing what he can to make those conversations easier.
Cade Brown FCPA says Canberra has been very kind to him. It’s where he studied, after moving from Tallangatta in Victoria’s rural north-east. It’s been at the centre of his cricketing career – he was the captain of the ACT Comets and played for the Prime Minister’s XI – and most of his professional career has been in the capital.
After 15 years working for one of the Big Four accounting firms, last year Brown left to become a partner with management consultants Callida Consulting. The group works exclusively with the government sector and employs about 80 staff.
“Consulting to government is extremely satisfying and the variety of clients that I work with keeps me turning up to work with a smile on my face,” says Brown.
Yet in the bush capital, as in all areas of Australia, there are increasing issues around mental and emotional health. Brown has seen these problems affect people in both his professional and sporting circles. As a result, he is now dedicating much of his spare time to becoming a part of the solution.
He is on the board of The Fly Program, a not-for-profit that advocates using outdoor experiences to raise the wellbeing of Australia’s adult males. They arrange for a group to head off on mountain bikes for a couple of days’ camping and fishing. It sounds simple, but it’s an experience that lets the men release stress and enjoy an openness that makes it easy to talk about personal issues. That’s often not encouraged in day-to-day life.
“We’re all busy being busy. The Fly Program just gave me that opportunity to breathe out, to disconnect from the mobile phone and the constant emails, and the social media and everything that’s busy in our lives,” says Brown in a video for the group. “I get to connect with like-minded people; to catch a fish along the way is a bonus.”
“Often I can’t see it or touch it, but I know that our efforts are going a long way to help those who need it the most.”
Brown also recently became president of Lifeline Canberra. “For me, it ticks all the boxes. Lifeline is something I’m truly passionate about. I feel enormous satisfaction in the fact that I am able to use my skill set to be able to give back to people here in Canberra, through Lifeline. Often I can’t see it or touch it, but I know that our efforts are going a long way to help those who need it the most.”
Lifeline, a crisis support organisation, relies hugely on its volunteers. It’s these people who inspire Brown to give even more time and effort. “We’re unbelievably grateful for people who finish a long day’s work and then go to Lifeline as telephone counsellors and work for hours into the night,” he says.
“People talk about the bravery of those who make the call, which is absolutely true and well understood. But I also admire the bravery of the telephone counsellor who, after a long day at work, takes that call. I think that’s the ultimate selfless act.”
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Lifeline Canberra is part of Australia’s Lifeline charity, which provides 24-hour support to people in crisis, whether it’s through depression, loneliness, abuse or other stresses. It was set up in 1963 by Reverend Alan Walker after he’d taken a call from a distressed man who later took his own life. Walker was determined not to let a lack of support cause more deaths. The charity runs with 1000 staff and 11,000 volunteers, operating from over 60 locations nationwide. It now provides services through the phone support line, face-to-face and online.
It takes about 1800 calls each day on its 24-hour crisis line (call 13 11 14). Donations can be made through act.lifeline.org.au
The Fly Program
The Fly Program aims to raise awareness and combat the impacts of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide in Australian men. Its objective is to get more men in the outdoors as active participants, creating an environment where they can tackle the threads of mental illness as a team, not suffer as individuals. See http://flyprogram.org.au
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