Last issue we ran a story on our front page entitled “Shining a light on men’s mental health”. This article was very well received by our readers and outlined that after a number of pivotal events, a local men’s Facebook group “Hills District Dads” (HDD) were striving to create an initiative to get men in the local community, to get together in a safe environment to discuss the real issues in life that don’t normally get talked about.

Thanks to Hills Shire Council, Mayor Yvonne Keane and a few other members of HDD, the “Dadmins” of the group were able to hold their first support group meeting this past Monday 13th February.

A small number of dads from the local area attended and after sharing some jokes to break the ice, were able to start opening up about the things that really weigh down on them and share some of the struggles they face on a daily basis that they may not feel comfortable sharing with friends and loved ones.

“The really important thing to see from all this, is not only are we receiving support and volunteers from within HDD, we are seeing this as just the first little step in what will be a great journey. The first meeting was a great success and all who attended left the night feeling a lot more positive about where they stood in relation to their own struggles. The attendees also left with a sense of feeling heard and not judged. This is the real important thing for men to know. These support group sessions are designed as a safe environment where no man will be judged for what struggles they face, no matter how big or small they are. All men who attend are free to open up and say as much as they feel comfortable, or say as little as they want. There is no pressure to speak. The hope is that all men will be able to relate and see that they are not alone in these dark times and that many more men than they realise feel and deal with the same kinds of issues on a daily basis” Brendon O’Loughlin, one of the Dadmins said.

The group hope to be able to grow the frequency and locations for these meetings into the future as more men feel comfortable voicing their struggles.

“This is a fantastic collaboration and we are really thankful to Mayor Keane for her support for our group meetings where we are looking to really make a positive impact on many men’s lives. We are doing our bit to start to break down some of the stigma attached to men’s mental health” Michael Drogaris, another of the Dadmins said.

Group meetings will be held from 7pm in Community Meeting Room 4, Hills Shire Council, 3 Columbia Court Baulkham Hills. The next dates booked in are 13 March, 10 April and 8 May 2017.

For any more information, please email [email protected]

Local dads and dads to be, are encouraged to join the Facebook group www.facebook. com/groups/HDDSydney

The admin (Dadmin) team are Brendon O’Loughlin, Benjamin Fischer, Michael Drogaris, Vincent Tani, Todd Querruel and Justin Bridges.