Connecting with local men in the name of mental health

Darren Cook and Tracey Annan visited Cobar last Thursday to share the importance of getting men to talk about mental health. Darren and Tracey were on hand in Marshall Street for a chat with anyone on Thursday and Darren gave a talk at the Grand Hotel on Thursday evening.

After attempting to take his own life in 2013, Darren Cook woke up in hospital with a new life plan to become the person he so badly needed in his time of crisis.

Men talking about mental health is not generally high on the agenda at the pub or at the workplace but Darren wants to change that.

Darren, who was in Cobar last Thursday, travels the country starting conversations with people about suicide prevention and men’s mental health.

“I travel mostly to rural and regional Australia, where help is needed the most,” Darren said.

It became Darren’s life mission to help men in mental health crisis after battling his own mind in 2013 when he felt very isolated and alone.

He explained that the attempt to take his own life was not planned, but still counts himself lucky to wake up in hospital.

“I woke up and wanted to become that man I needed the most at that time,” Darren said.

Travelling with him to Cobar was Tracey Annan, who also knows the pain of men’s mental health battles having lost her own husband to suicide 10 years ago.

Darren does 90 per cent of his work solo, visiting farmers and towns along his journey to engage with people and connect them to the services in their local towns that can help them through their recovery from mental illness.

He also explained that he often gives ‘toolbox talks’ at worksites including mines, replacing the spanners, hammers and screwdrivers with a box full of conversations around mental illness and suicide prevention.

Another method Darren frequently uses is ‘throttle therapy’ which is getting a bunch of guys out on their motorbikes to let off some steam.

While every town offers new and unique circumstances, Darren connects with the community and the services available and strives to leave the town stronger than when he arrived.

Darren is planning a Speak Up Tour for March 2018 departing from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and touring around the Australian countryside.