WHAT Peter Blenkiron likes in hearing Steve Moneghetti’s story, is the part about the physiotherapist.
In what was a revolutionary move at the time, Moneghetti would also list his physio Pete Howley as the first – and often only – person he would take to international races when competing at his peak. The Ballarat Olympian credits Howley for the continued longevity in his running career.
“Here he was, asking for help when it wasn’t really done because he wanted longevity,” Blenkiron said. “He didn’t just put up with things.”
Blenkiron was an electrical contractor who says he fell apart and is now working full time on putting himself together. He shares top billing with Moneghetti in a free men’s health night at Ballarat Library on Thursday.
While Blenkiron will share his story as a child sexual abuse survivor, his focus is on preventing others from spiralling in a similar way that he did.
Blenkiron said the the spiral could be mentally or physically but the preventative message should be the same: seek help early.
“Even key issues in our community of cardiovascular disease and types of cancers, often those things can be prevented coming forward for help in the early stages,” Blenkiron said.
“If each individual is well then they can better avoid the crash and the point where they slip into a state of free-fall and all the rest of their lives fall apart as well. It can be like a festering volcano erupting.
“It can be changing really simple stuff, but it’s complicated to get across.”
Blenkiron said it was important to understand and know when to seek help to better our emotional functionality, rather than becoming slaves to our emotions.
He said work and awareness in mental health had vastly improved, particularly in the momentum generated by national bodies beyondblue, headspace and RU OK? But there was a way to go.
Blenkiron said that just like apologies stemming from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, mental health movements need action to help people.
“Mental health has got that critical mass awareness but now what happens?” Blenkiron said.
“Is it just to check in with your GP (general practitioner) and notice the norms and knowing when you’re operating outside the norm, like having an extra glass of booze in the evenings.
“Create connections with a good counsellor – don’t just go there when things are going well. It’s that preventative mode, rather than just a reactive mode.”
Blenkiron wants all men to treat themselves as well as their cars so when they might struggle with the day-to-day stuff, they ask for help.
Event to explore health balance in life
LIVING a balanced life is the key theme for a special Men’s Health Week event at the Ballarat Library on Thursday night.
Prominent mental health advocate Peter Blenkiron and Olympian Steve Moneghetti, a national running ambassador, headline the Ballarat Health Services evening, which is free and open to all in a bid to get more people talking.
BHS event spokesman Stuart Bates said it was an opportunity for everyone interested in men’s health to get a better understanding of what they could do for themselves or to help someone close to them.
“The real message is getting help early,” Mr Bates said.
“Being healthy is far from eating enough fruit and vegetables. Balance in life can contribute to health and well-being, like making time to go to a park and socialise.”
Mr Bates said having Mr Blenkiron and Mr Moneghetti as guest speakers really helped add perspective to the evening’s healthy body, healthy mind theme.
He said mental health was becoming more acceptable to openly talk about and, like all aspects of men’s health, it was about furthering the conversation.
Mr Bates said the momentum behind Men’s Health Week and such men’s health events had also been building the past couple of years and it was important to keep getting key messages out in the community.
The evening will also feature BHS speakers on prostate awareness and diabetes.
City of Ballarat councillor Belinda Coates will open the night with The Courier editor Eugene Duffy as emcee.
The Men’s Health Week is at Ballarat Library on Thursday, 6-8pm. Health information will be available to help spark more informal chat. For more details, phone Ballarat Libraries on 5338 6850.