Updated: Dec 6, 2021
On the 20th of April the team at Neighbourhood hosted our ‘No Small Talk' fundraising dinner. The whole evening centred around Men's Mental Health - as part of the overall Silent Fight campaign, which aimed to raise funds for ‘I Am Hope’ and to normalise conversations about mental health as a whole. There were around 30 people in attendance and it was a night all about connecting, learning and openness. It gave everyone an opportunity to talk freely about their own journeys, how they are feeling and what they might be going through in a safe and welcoming space. We had Neighbourhoods President - Maddie Mason introduce the campaign. She started off the evening by giving an honest and emotional insight into her personal struggles with mental health as well as touching on the original thought process and ideation behind the dinner. This was followed by our three amazing guests, Tai Toupo, Matt Fenn & Zane Munro, who spoke about their individual stories & gave us a better understanding around how we can help support the males in our lives.
Tai Toupo is the Youth Programme Development Manager at I Am Hope. In his early career Tai was a rugby playing with aspirations to represent Auckland in the NRL, after damaging his ankle and being forced to retire from the sport his mental health was deeply affected and he suffered with depression. This was when Tai met Mike King, who asked him to join him on a road trip, travelling across Aotearoa speaking to others about mental health. Tai's mission now is to spread this message to everyday people, whether this be in schools, communities or businesses, by giving an insight into his own struggles and journey. During the dinner he spoke about some of the stigmas that society projects onto men, the damaging effects these can have and the need to implement drastic changes in order to protect the males in our communities.
Zane Munro is the founder of the popular Instagram account ‘For All The Brothers”, which now has over 30k followers. He centred the evenings conversation around how difficult it can be for men to talk about the mental health challenges they are going through, even in their darkest moments and emphasised the importance of checking in on the people in your life. Especially if they haven’t reached out themselves or if you know they are going through a rough patch. He also reiterated the importance that women can play in supporting their partners and how much could change if we just allowed men to be vulnerable. By giving men the opportunity to express their feelings, instead of hiding their emotions, we as a society are able to reshape what masculinity means.
Matt Fenn spoke to us about his recent accomplishments of running 24 hours carrying 24kgs and then running 654 kilometres in 6 days for suicide awareness. During his youth Matt turned to physical activity as a coping mechanism and was compelled to complete these undertakings as a result of his own mental health struggles and after seeing the damaging effects suicide can have on families and friends. Matt wants to raise awareness and encourage people to start talking about their own mental health journeys in order to remove the stigma from these conversations. He also emphasised the point that no matter what emotions you are feeling they are always valid and worth sharing because when we are supporting and helping one another, then we are all able to share the load together and things get easier.
Last year 654 people lost their lives to suicide & the majority of these were men. This highlights the importance of having organisations such as I Am Hope who provide free counselling, to youths under 25, the week they get in contact. Many organisations have wait lists that average between 6 & 26 weeks and if you are already struggling or at breaking point then you simply don’t have that time. Every dollar of profit raised has gone straight to I Am Hope & the impact this immediate intervention can have on someone could be the difference between life and death.
No Small Talk was an extraordinary evening and we are thankful to each and every one of the individuals who came. Vulnerable conversations were had, delicious food was eaten, tangible actions were initiated and hope for a safer Aotearoa was sparked. So thank you for your presence, for helping us to remove the stigma from these conversations, for advocating for change, for supporting the people in your lives. Please give them a hug and tell them you love them. Remember even a small actions can have a big impact and a single person can make a difference in someone else's life.
A big shout out to our supporters:
@kiranpatelfilms being an amazing ally
@georgelamont.nz your support on the day
@kwiknezyeventspartyhire & @clickforhire equipment & gear.
@neighbourhoodnz planning and execution.
Written by Jadzia Michna-Konigstorfer