Beat the blues

• Nick Hudson (third from the right) and his co-workers get ready for Blue Shirt Wednesday. Photo

BLUE Shirt Wednesday aims to reduce the stigma around mental health in the workplace, especially for men.

“Simply turn up for work wearing blue – a blue shirt, dress, glasses, shoes, blue bangles,” organiser Nick Hudson says.

He was in his 30s before he found out his father had been battling depression for decades.

“My parents kept it from my brother and me and the burden was on mum to cope,” Hudson says.

After researching depression, Mr Hudson set up Blue Shirt Wednesday, with the aim of getting people to open up about their problems.

“Seeing a family member suffer as a result of mental illness, as well as losing a couple of friends to anxiety and depression, I thought it was time to rally the troops.

“Given almost half of our time awake is spent at work, workplace environments have a massive influence over our mental health.”

Men are particularly vulnerable, Mr Hudson says: “They are much less likely than women to talk about mental health problems, which is a major barrier to seeking help.

“One in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives and 72 per cent don’t seek help.”

South Fremantle local Abi White agrees: “Statistically it’s men that feel they can’t address their mental health issues and its men who are suiciding at frightening numbers.

“I hope by focusing on men, everyone will benefit. If we want better relationships, both at home and at work, and dads in better headspace to be dads, maybe it’s time to let men know that it’s okay to start talking.”

“It’s about letting men know that they have just as much right to come forth with emotional concerns as women.”

The fifth annual Blue Shirt Wednesday will be held this Wednesday (October 10) and coincides with World Mental Health Day.

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