“Mate, why don’t we do something that goes past telling blokes to just have a chat, and try to understand the actual issue at hand, and while we’re at it, push social connection and drive real change when it comes to men’s Mental Health in Geelong.”
And with that, the idea of Right Mate was born.
Chris Lytas & Luke Outerbridge were introduced to each other by a mutual friend in July 2019 who had an idea that if she brought these two together, good things would come of it. After 9 months of planning, the formation of a committee of passionate men, the brand was incorporated and on Monday 6th April 2020, the website www.rightmate.org.au went live.
Driven by lived experience, both Chris & Luke realised that there was an opportunity to provide a centralised website with links to community-based men’s groups, links to professional services and resources for people to be able to access, that cover a range of topics.
Their aim is to build a community of men who not only look out for each other but are comfortable in their skin, and ultimately, have the skills to encourage others to do the same.
“You can’t underestimate the power of social connection”, says Luke. “Men are notoriously bad at talking about their feelings but we’re starting to see a shift in what the perception of ‘being a man’ is and it starts with simple social connection.”
Chris agrees – “Last year we held sessions at both Kardinia International College and Geelong Baptist College, specifically talking to their senior boys. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive. There was no set structure or presentation, it was an open, honest and interactive conversation with these young men, helping them understand who they were. We broke down a lot of myths and preconceived notions.”
Chris & Luke are also currently putting together a range of programs they’ll be able to deliver via online platforms, with programs tailored to sporting clubs, Dad’s groups, Schools and the female audience, which they see as key to breaking down the stigma of Mens’ mental health.
They also run The Man Walk Geelong, a free, twice weekly walk for men to connect and assist with social connection. However due to the current restrictions, these are being done virtually on a Wednesday night and Saturday morning. Details can be found under the events tab on the Right Mate website.
They are also on social media, having both a Facebook page, Right Mate Geelong and an Instagram page, @right.mate and encourage anyone interested to follow them on either or both platforms.
Finally, they both have this to say – “We’re not professionals in this space, and make no attempt to be. What we do have though, is lived experience and a driving passion to give back to our community and a strong belief that if we work to understand the issues and offer avenues of connection, we can make a difference”.
Story: Chris Lytas, humansingeelong team member. Photo: Luke and Chris at the Humans in Geelong Book Launch.