How surfing is helping young men stay mentally fit

Author: Movember
Men’s mental health is in crisis and 75% of those who take their own life in Australia each year are men. The reasons behind this are many and complex, but a number of studies have shown that many men aren’t prioritising their friendships and, as a result, lack the breadth and quality of social connections that can be a protective factor against anxiety, depression and suicide.

The Movember Foundation has therefore funded a series of projects as part of its Social Innovators Challenge. Projects thatare tailored towards supporting men at risk of social isolation and focussedon building and maintaining stronger relationships that they can draw upon when times get tough. These programs seeks to build knowledge around what works for men in a variety of circumstances, so these lessons can be applied across other groups of men in similar situations here and in other global settings.
 
The WoW Sand n Surf program run through the Waves of Wellness Foundation is one of these initiatives. Working across sites in  Newcastle and Sydney, it is supporting young men in becoming mentally and physically fit through a 6 week learn-to-surf wellness program that teaches young men the skills they need to cope with everyday challenges.
 
The program is a series of activity-based sessions grounded in research that promotes mental health, resilience and community connection. This initiative stands out from other support programs because it targets the mainstream rather than focusing on people who are clinically unwell. It emphasises the importance of looking after mental health as a component of overall health and rather than addressing issues once they arise, this program is preparing participants with wellness skills and coping strategies to manage their mental health no matter what life throws at them.
 
This video shows the program in action and how structured conversations hold the power to transform live.