Industry creates men’s mental health event

It follows four suicides in six weeks

Industry creates men’s mental health event


By Ryan Johnson

The banking and mortgage broking industry has banded together to create an event called MANtalk, which will address men's mental health in the industry. All proceeds will go to Beyond Blue.

The event was developed after the industry lost four members to suicide in six weeks, according to Varun Goyal (pictured above far left), MANtalk organiser and director of Victorian brokerage Trusted Financial Choice.

“They were all men,” said Goyal. “The broking community, including brokers, lenders, and aggregators have been devastated. So, we decided, in light of these latest tragedies and other telltale signs, we want to work together as an industry to do something about it – now.”

MANtalk will be held online and at the AMP Bank event space in Melbourne on December 8. Goyal urged industry members to sign up for a morning of "real talk, bro bonding, and epic discussions – where men can be men, no filters, no judgment."

What to expect at MANtalk

MANtalk will be emceed by Trusted Financial Choice associate director Tripti Goyal (pictured above second from left) who will open the event by sharing the latest statistics on depression, mental illness, and suicide in Australia.

From there, mortgage broker mentor Therese O’Neill (pictured above far right) will facilitate a panel discussion, which includes:

Justin Brooker, a 34-year-old mortgage broker from MoneyQuest Australia

Brooker will talk about his mental health struggles which resulted in his suicide attempt and how he overcame his demons to succeed in business.

Paul Herbert, head of intermediary distribution & finance, AMP Bank

Herbert will talk about why AMP has supported the event and share some of the initiatives that AMP has in place to manage the mental health of their team.

“Some of these initiatives could easily be adopted by the brokers in the room,” said O’Neill.

Kerry Kalendra, broker & 2023 VIC/TAS Wellness Advocate of the Year

Kalendra received a standing ovation when he won the Wellness Advocate Award earlier this year.  

“He threw his prepared speech out the window and opened up about his suicide attempt some four years earlier – how he got to that point, the catalyst for change, what actions he took, and the road bumps along the way,” said O’Neill.

Anthony Wick, nMB partnerships manager & 2023 Australian Wellness Advocate of the Year

Also an event organiser, Wick (pictured above second from right) runs numerous community groups for brokers, both face-to-face and online in which he focuses on motivation as well and physical and mental fitness.

“He will drill down on what drove him to do this – the isolation, loneliness, and challenges that many brokers experience working alone or working from home,” said O’Neill.

Chris Foster-Ramsay, mortgage broker at Foster Ramsay Finance and media commentator

Foster-Ramsay said he will talk about his personal mental health challenges as a broker.

“We are heading into a festive period but there are several pressures in our industry during this time – the loneliness, the February cashflow slump, cost of living pressures, and then add to that, the devastating mental impact of clawbacks,” Foster-Ramsay said.

“I want to share my experience working through these problems so brokers can prepare for these problems when they come up.”

Immediately following the panel, a speech by a mental health clinician and a suicide prevention officer from one of Melbourne’s busiest hospitals will answer these questions:

  • Medically, how can I recognise the signs that I might be suicidal?
  • Medically, how can I recognise the signs that my loved one is suicidal?
  • Medically, what actions should I take? What actions should I not take?
  • What actually happens when you end up in Emergency?

The last speaker will be strategic psychotherapist, Bronwyn whose keynote speech “Getting out of your Head” will provide an in-depth analysis of anxiety and practical tools to overcome automatic negative thoughts and overthinking.

The event will close with questions for the panel and the speakers from the audience.

Why is the event targeted at men?

While suicide is not exclusively a male problem, men are overwhelmingly more likely to take their own lives.

An average of 8.6 Australians die every day by suicide, more than double the road toll, according to the ABS.  A total of 75% of those who take their own life are male.

O’Neill said while the event welcomed the support of women too, she pointed to the success of female-driven programs improving the mental health of women.

“The Women Supporting Women and other female empowerment groups have done a fantastic job the last two years and there has been a significant increase in women entering our industry and satisfaction,” O’Neill said.

“There has been a whisper that men also need similar support. Many of the group organisers and supporters have been fielding calls from brokers and lenders – they just need someone to talk to. Collectively, we estimate over 100 conversations.”

The event will provide resources, thanks to Beyond Blue and AMP, to support attendees at the event as well as afterwards with a follow up email containing information on local mental health clinics, support groups, and other resources.

You can book tickets through the following link:

To get help today, call a Beyond Blue counsellor on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14

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