It was just before Christmas Day in 2019 that Nick Dwyer and his best friends were left utterly devastated when one of their friends took his own life. It was a huge shock that none of them was expecting and there were little signs on the outside that their friend was struggling internally. Trying to come to terms with what had happened and not sure how to process this loss, Nick began to look for ways to help others with mental health issues to prevent another family from going through a similar thing.
“I heard about Mullets for Mental Health with the Black Dog Institute and thought, it’s a no-brainer. I’m definitely doing it,” Nick, now 33, explains.
In 2020 he printed off flyers and sent them to all of his work colleagues in his job as a mechanic, urging them to help him. In total, he raised $500. Now he’s back, ready to get even crazier with his mullet for the good cause.
“It feels good to do a little bit to help others. I think everyone should jump on board,” he says.
The Mullets for Mental Health challenge encourages Aussies to start growing those luscious locks for the month of September to raise much-needed funds for mental health research.
45 per cent of Australians will experience mental illness in their lifetime, with suicide being the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44 – more deaths per year than car accidents. Eight people in Australia die from suicide every day, and male suicides make up three-quarters of all suicides in Australia.
Given these numbers, Mullets for Mental Health, a fantastic initiative by the Black Dog Institute, is imperative to safeguarding the wellbeing of those suffering from mental health issues.
Now in its third year, the campaign was launched in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw a rise in interesting at-home haircuts but, more importantly, a significant increase in Australians experiencing symptoms of mental illness.
Black Dog Institute’s Mullet for Mental Health Campaign Coordinator, Tom Farrar, says almost 80 per cent of Australians claimed their mental health had worsened due to the pandemic, and many continue to experience ongoing mental health concerns still.
“Mullets for Mental Health is a fun and engaging way to ignite those important mental health conversations that we need to be having. It’s a way to show your fellow Aussies that you’re all ears for mental health by raising funds to drive ground-breaking research into the early detection, prevention, and treatment of common health disorders,” says Tom.
Mullets for Mental Health has raised over $9.6M over the past two campaigns for mental health research, and this year’s campaign will help continue with important work.
Money raised in previous years has supported programs such as Under the Radar, which looks at the characteristics, experiences, and barriers to accessing clinical support for those with mental ill health but not seeking support. Donations have also helped to grow Future Proofing, the Institute’s school-based, a five-year trial that aims to prevent depression and anxiety in young people.
Thanks to the community’s involvement in Mullets for Mental Health 2022, Black Dog Institute will be able to continue to connect research answers, expert knowledge, and the voices of people who have experienced mental ill-health to create a mentally healthier world.
1 in 5 Australians will experience symptoms of mental illness in any given year – that’s around 5 million people.
Black Dog Institute is the only Medical Research Institute in Australia to investigate mental health across the lifespan. They ask complex questions to build evidence-based solutions to address public health challenges in mental health.
“Our aim is to create a mentally healthier world for everyone, which we do through ‘translational’ research. Integrating our research studies, education programs, digital tools and apps, clinical services, and public resources to discover new solutions, foster connections, and create real-world change,'” the organisation says.
Anyone keen to take on the challenge of growing a Mullet can register here before grabbing the shaver and asking friends and family members to sponsor them on their mullet-y journey. So what are you waiting for – be part of this amazing cause-driven challenge that will help those who are suffering in silence and save lives.