© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2019

Footy, food, beers - and important conversations

Mitchell Redman
Rugby Food
Prebbleton Rugby Club players tuck in for a feed after a cold nights training. Mitchell Redman

It's a bitterly cold Thursday evening at footy. The end of the week is in sight. For many, that thought is enough to look forward to. However, a growing number of Kiwi men aren't finding it that easy.

Prebbleton Rugby Club is just one of many country rugby clubs in Canterbury, which are putting initiatives in place to remove the stigma of mens mental health.

At the completion of training on Thursday evenings, the entire senior group, consisting of five teams from Under-18 to Division 1 are treated to dinner, involving more than 100 players and management. 

President of the Prebbleton Rugby Club Jeromy Knowler said the post-training feeds were at first just sausages and bread, an incentive to get more numbers to trainings. 

The initiative has now run for four years, and Knowler said the most important thing was to continue getting the club together, chatting amongst themselves, with the opportunity to discuss anything that is happening in each others livelihoods.

Mens Health Week edit
Mike Pero, ambassador of Men's Health Week, which ran June 10-16. The whole month of June is Mens Heath Month. Mens Health Week NZ

Canterbury Mens Centre chief executive Donald Pettitt said initiatives like this were important. 

He believed it was crucial that men learned to recognise signs of mental illness so they could reach out and help others.

A survey undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation in 2016, showed 95 percent of New Zealand men would be open to helping a friend if asked, but only 50 percent of men would consider opening up about their struggles.

Pettitt said there was a need for mental health services throughout the country which directly catered for men, as it was mostly women accessing the current system.

A 2018 Bayer survey labelled 'State of the Rural Nation' found 70 percent of rural New Zealanders had felt higher degrees of stress in the past five years.

The most affected were people aged from 18 to 39, with 85 percent of that age group saying they had suffered stress and anxiety.

Mens Health Month aims to raise awarness of mental health issues and encourages men to open up and start talking about their health.