From the Newsroom

The Butcherboys’ from Yamba Fair Butchery have donned loud shirts to start a conversation about men’s mental health issues. (l-r) Eli, Chris, Stephen, Will and Jayden. Image: Contributed

Loud shirts … let’s talk about that

Geoff Helisma

As a shopper walks past the Yamba Fair Butchery, the ‘extra-loud’ shirts the butchers are wearing is likely to catch their attention and, perhaps, stimulate a thought: Why?

“A friend of mine took their own life a few years ago, that’s my main motivation, to get people talking about it,” says proprietor Chris O’Connor.

Chris says, “we need to break down the barrier”, when it comes to speaking about mental illness, and that some of his friends have also “had to deal with” losing a loved one or a close friend to suicide.

The idea behind the colourful shirts, Chris says, came from “a couple of tradies” who experienced the “same sort of situation”.

“We’re trying to stand out – people ask what the shirts are about, and we tell them it puts a bit of a spotlight, a bit of a focus, on men’s mental health,” says Chris.

The tradies Chris speaks about are Dan and Ed, who started a website, www.themutthub.com, with the aim of providing a safe place to discuss the hardest of subjects : “The Mutt Hub is designed with you in mind, our goal is to produce fact-driven, audio, visual and written media in our signature, no-bullshit voice that makes people feel less alone, and that they are part of the TradeMutt community.”

Dan and Ed met on a building site in 2014 – Dan was born and raised in the western suburbs of Sydney, “Ed is an authentic country lad hailing from Longreach, Queensland,” Dan writes in the Our Story section of the website.

A shared affinity for actor Jim Carrey and their mutually solid work ethic “carried us through absolutely everything”, writes Dan, until “everything for me came to a grinding halt” towards the end of 2016, upon hearing that one of his “best mates had tragically and unexpectedly taken his own life”.

“TradeMutt came about in the confusing but reflective period following what happened in 2016,” Dan writes.

“We are an Australian workwear brand that aims to make tradies and workers of all kinds look and feel great at work, and in doing so, reduce the rate of male suicide in Australia.

“Our loud and vibrant shirts act as a catalyst to starting the conversation around mental health in men, a topic that has been hard to approach in the past for blokes, mostly due to the attached stigmas and perceived weakness.”

Meanwhile, on Yamba Fair Butchery’s Facebook page: “Drop in, say, ‘G’day’, and if you’re feeling like you need to ‘start the conversation’ do so … lads there’s no shame in talking.

“We’re over the moon excited to be involved in raising the curtain on men’s mental health!

“A shout out to Uniform Shop Maclean for their outstanding embroidery.”

As it happens, Dan’s friend (also named Dan), who took his own life, was an avid Liverpool F.C. supporter, and Liverpool’s song, often sung en mass by tens of thousands of fans, is the message he wants to spread.

“In memory of Dan, this is a reminder for anyone wearing one of these shirts, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.”

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