Taking Time to Raise Awareness
Magnus Aitken, Steam Plains
We were in a pretty rugged time, when we started. Regardless of how connected people are, things can get on top of you.
My passion for mental health is, to me, just a natural extension of my passion for rural and remote Australia. It’s just something that’s intrinsic to me. Rural and remote Australia is my life.
I know so many stories where mental health has had such an impact. I’m conscious of the impact that it can have on me, and ensuring that I keep my mental health in check.
We all think we’re completely resilient, but I don’t think you’d find anyone that hasn’t been touched by a tragic circumstance as a result of unchecked mental health issues. A lot of times, issues that no one really knew about or no one knew how to help.
We all spend so much more time alone in regional Australia, particularly the more remote you are. The more time you spend alone, the more time your mind has to work on itself. It’s the isolation, it’s an ever-present factor. The more alone you are, the more alone you can feel.
We have quite a few young people on our team, it’s a small team but we’re quite spread out.
One of our guys wears some pretty rugged clothing from time to time, and used to wear a Hawaiian shirt. It made me think about showing a bit of irreverence on a Friday, having a Funky Friday, our version of a mufti day. Around the same time, I found out a bit about TradeMutt. We grabbed a couple of their shirts and encouraged everybody to wear a wild shirt on a Friday. It’s a conversation starter.
Most people’s first instinct is to have a crack… and I like that about it.
When people ask about your shirt, it’s the perfect catalyst to tell people why we do it, to have people feel comfortable to talk or to think about mental health. I just wanted people to be aware.
We were in a pretty rugged time, when we started. Regardless of how connected people are, things can get on top of you. Doing it on a Friday encourages people to wind down, have a laugh, and get into the right frame of mind leading into the weekend.
I want to normalise mental health, checking on a mate, having a conversation. It’s just getting people, who may not engage with these things normally, to connect with something.