MANtalk expands reach to combat mental health struggles

Events tailored for men in the mortgage industry

MANtalk expands reach to combat mental health struggles


By Ryan Johnson

After launching a successful men's mental health event in 2023, a group of mortgage industry leaders have expanded their initiative.

This year, they'll be hosting seven "MANtalk" events across Melbourne and Sydney. These events offer a variety of formats, including walks, casual coffee meetups, and more formal seminars.

Their goal is to create a safe space for men in the mortgage industry to share their experiences with mental health challenges and suicide prevention.

“The importance of addressing mental health remains paramount, especially with rising suicide rates among men,” said Chris Foster-Ramsay, mortgage broker and MANtalk ambassador.

“We’re constantly expanding and seeking ambassadors to host small-scale events like cycling events or potentially a golf day.”

MANtalk gaining momentum

A spate of suicides within the mortgage broking industry – four members lost in just six weeks – spurred the creation of the MANtalk event.

Held at sponsor AMP Bank's Melbourne office, the event raised over $12,500 for mental health charity Beyond Blue.

Perhaps more importantly, five men bravely and candidly shared their experiences to a packed room of industry professionals.

While the feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive, Foster-Ramsay said attendees highlighted some uneasiness among some men wanting to raise issues, especially knowing it was streamed.

“This year we've taken it offline to create safer space for discussions to be had,” he said. “Not only that, but we’ll be expanding our reach significantly, hosting two main events on Tuesday 15 October in both Sydney and Melbourne.”

The need for MANtalk

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.  Some 75% of those who take their own life are male.

Mortgage brokers face a perfect storm for mental health struggles. The job can be isolating, with long hours and pressure to perform. They witness clients' dreams of homeownership dashed by financial realities, which can be emotionally draining.

Furthermore, the industry itself can be volatile, with fluctuating interest rates and loan products adding to the stress.

As explained in the inaugural MANtalk event, this constant pressure and emotional investment can lead to feelings of burnout, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts.

This is why it was important to cover scenarios that are relevant to brokers, according to Foster-Ramsay.

“As an example of the types of things we talk about, I shared last year about how brokerages can manage the ‘February blues’ – where brokers often face a cash slump after the holiday period,” Foster-Ramsay said. “After the event, many brokers came up to me and said how they went through the same thing and appreciated the validation.

“It may seem overwhelming, but reaching out for support is crucial. Your experience is probably not unique, and many brokers have likely been through similar situations and can offer valuable insights. Every case is different, but discussing specific circumstances can lead to solutions.”

How Brokers Can Support MANtalk

With MANtalk committed to growing its reach and impact within the mortgage broking industry, the group of industry leaders launched an ambassador program.

The idea behind ambassadors is to expand MANtalk’s reach and host diverse events, according to Foster-Ramsay.

“We're nearing 20 ambassadors now, and we're still open to more,” he said. “If anyone is interested, they can reach out to Therese O’Neil, who's managing the program.”

Even if you can't dedicate time to becoming an ambassador, Foster-Ramsay said brokers can still make a difference by simply spreading the word about MANtalk.

“Talk to your colleagues, share information about upcoming events on social media, and encourage open conversations about mental health within your workplace,” he said.

“Or better yet, wear your support. We’ve launched our own merchandise such as t-shirts with MANtalk information on them. Purchasing and wearing these items is a fantastic way to visually support the cause and raise funds for mental health charities like Beyond Blue.”

Check out the MANtalk schedule

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