By Marcus Uhe
It’s no secret that men can find it difficult to open up and discuss the issues in their life with even their family and closest friends.
But charity organisation The Men’s Table is hoping to whittle-away that stigma in the Dandenong community.
The Men’s Table provides groups of up to 12 males the opportunity to build relationships and connect with others while discussing the highs and lows of their everyday lives, including topics such as stresses and relationships, in a safe environment, once a month.
Participants are initially grouped without requiring a prior connection to one-another in an attempt to expand social networks.
The organisation is launching a Table in Dandenong, holding an “Entrée” event on Tuesday 18 October at the Dandenong RSL, having received a grant from the City of Greater Dandenong.
Table ‘Host’, Dan Ball said he was excited to bring the concept to Dandenong.
“The ‘Entrée’ is an overview of where Men’s Table comes from and allows men to share their ideas amongst themselves,” Mr Ball said.
“We’ll go over the fundamentals and guidelines for conversation.”
The Men’s Table started as an informal gathering for dinner and a chat in 2011 and has evolved into an organisation with a broader scope and ambition to tackle the bigger issues in the lives everyday men.
Participation is free – all it costs is the price of a meal and a drink.
There are now 73 tables across the country, with growth expanding exponentially due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and isolation requirements exacerbating mental health issues.
What separates Men’s Table from a standard chat people might have with their long-term friends is the desire to go beyond superficial issues, such as how your sports team went on the weekend.
The phrase ‘we don’t just talk about footy and shit,’ encompasses the aim of the organisation, Mr Ball said.
“It’s really talking about what’s going on with our feelings rather than surface level stuff that you might talk about with mates.
“None of us are clinicians. We’re not there to fix problems.
“If you meet someone on the street who’s broken their leg, you may not have the skillset to fix the leg but you can stay with the person until the professionals arrive. It’s the same with this support group. Sharing what’s going on with us once a month.”
Mr Ball, who moved to Australia from the United Kingdom, can vouch for the program on a personal level, having been a participant for a number of years.
“Having that separate group of people where I know my intentions are, once a month, to reflect on what’s going on for me, it helps to have that group where I know there’s no judgement.
“it’s given me different group of people who also want to get to that level of conversation and be respectful, listening to other men.
“It makes a whole lot of difference having that peer support group.”
Feedback on the success of the group has been overwhelmingly positive, with the vast majority (84 per cent of participants) believing their attendance resulted in a stronger sense of community belonging and benefited their mental health (80 per cent).
The Men’s Table Entrée will be held on Tuesday 18 October at the Dandenong RSL from 6.30pm -9pm.
For more information or to register attendance, head to themenstable.org/