Mortgage experts share ‘powerful’ stories

Event raises $12,500 for Beyond Blue

Mortgage experts share ‘powerful’ stories


By Ryan Johnson

The banking and mortgage broking industry came together for a powerful event called MANtalk, where five prominent men bravely shared their personal experiences with mental health struggles, isolation, and suicide.

This remarkable display of vulnerability and support raised $6,000 for mental health charity Beyond Blue, which was matched by event sponsor AMP Bank bringing the total amount to $12,000.

Justin Brooker, a 34-year-old mortgage broker from MoneyQuest Australia, said MANtalk was “one of the most powerful days” of his life after discussing his struggles with suicidal thoughts.

“I faced several hundred people and disclosed my serious mental health struggles last year and my recent ADHD diagnosis,” Brooker said. “It was also timely as today marks the sixth anniversary of my Type 1 diabetes diagnosis.”

MANtalk: Five men’s mental health stories of success

The event, held online and at the AMP Bank event space in Melbourne on December 8, opened with event organiser Tripti Goyal pointing out some facts from Beyond Blue:

  • Men are less likely to seek mental health help than women
  • One in seven men will experience depression in their lifetime – equating to over 3.4 million men or 13.2% of the Australian population
  • One in five men experience an anxiety condition like OCD, PTSD, or generalised anxiety disorder
  • Men are three times more likely to die from suicide than women with 3,455 men taking their own lives in 2022 – or six men a day

From there, the event delved into a panel discussion hosted by broker mentor Therese O’Neill and featuring:

  • Justin Brooker, MoneyQuest mortgage broker;
  • Paul Herbert, head of intermediary distribution & finance, AMP Bank;
  • Kerry Kalendra, broker & 2023 VIC/TAS Wellness Advocate of the Year;
  • Anthony Wick, National Mortgage Brokers (nMB) partnerships manager & 2023 Australian Wellness Advocate of the Year and
  • Chris Foster-Ramsay, mortgage broker at Foster Ramsay Finance.

Removing the mask on mental health battles

For Foster-Ramsay, talking about his experience was “personally uncomfortable” despite his experience as a media commentator.

“I thought my story was best kept private,” Foster-Ramsay said. “But what I learned yesterday was that by bringing it out in the open and discussing it as part of a panel, it brought it to the forefront of discussion. My message finally meant something to me and was valued by others.”

“Men’s mental health is an issue that needs the mask taken off and put in the open for open discussion. In fact, at this time of year, it gets worse.”

Foster-Ramsay talked about the loneliness of running a small business, having to ‘fit in’ over the festive season to please others and concern over controlling cash flow in a time of the high cost of living can all snowball to a crushing level in some.

“To those who can relate to this, I absolutely sympathise, and I promise I am here for you,” Foster-Ramsay said.

“There is a community of brokers and small business owners who have been through the dark tunnel before you and emerged. There are untapped resources that can be accessed – just by picking up the phone.”

MANtalk: The importance of connection

After the panel, mental health clinician Kim Graham and suicide prevention officer Breanna Campbell talked through the signs of suicide and what actions you should take if you or someone you know are experiencing symptoms.

This was followed by a speech by Bronwyn Penhaligon, a strategic psychotherapist specialist in anxiety, who provided an in-depth analysis of anxiety and practical tools to overcome automatic negative thoughts and overthinking.

“Honest conversations about vulnerability are disruptive,” Penahaligon said. “They shine light in dark corners and force us to look at what lays hidden. And sometimes, that reveal changes everything. I was honoured to hear five very different, incredibly powerful stories of survival yesterday.”

“These five courageous men shared their full experiences of ‘less than awesome’ mental health – each detailing the build-up, the ‘event’, the healing … as I listened to their real, raw truths, a powerful underlying theme tied them all together – the importance of connection.”

The event concluded by providing resources, thanks to Beyond Blue and AMP Bank, 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.

Among those that attended the event were (pictured above left to right), Anthony Wick, Justin Brooker, Kerry Kalendra, Chris Foster-Ramsay, Kim Graham, Paul Herbert, Tripti Goyal, Therese O’Neill, Bronwyn Penhaligon and Breeanna Campbell.

To view the full event recording, click here.

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

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