Mates Helping Mates
November 20, 2019
What does it mean to be brave? Is it confronting your greatest fears (big hairy spiders, a disappointed partner, an angry boss) while bile rises in your throat? Is it public speaking while wearing your pyjamas? Is it facing a hurtling mass of muscle on a sports field, an enemy fired up to crush you and your mates to win a temporary crown?
I met bravery last week in a recording studio in Sydney’s Alexandria. Three young men, Lochie Drew-Morris 21, Luca Moretti 19, and Patrick Clifton 20 are friends who are helping other young Australians understand and tackle their own fears and anxieties through the launch of their podcast Turn Up the Talk. It’s a podcast to bring conversations about youth mental health into the everyday and as common as chats about cricket scores or what’s for dinner. Dragging anxiety – an issue that’s as common as muck for many of us – away from hushed conversations or sorrowful posts on social media following a bewildering suicide – into the light of everyday conversation.
Luca, Lochie and Patrick met when they kids and when the only thing they had to worry about was who was going to win the NRL Grand Final. Growing into talented sportsmen they spent many hours travelling together as coaches for their alma mater Waverley School to Saturday sports matches. It was during one of these trips, after yet another suicide of a person they knew, that the idea of a podcast on youth mental health by young people first sparked, and they shared their story with me:
What was your previous experience of youth mental health?
Lochie: We all have our own experiences. Within our community there have been 14 suicides in a few years. This year there have been around 10, people aged 18 to 21. We all grew up with these people, and they are no longer here.
How did that turn into the idea of the Turn up the Talk podcast?
Patrick: We spent a lot of time together, driving to coaching gigs for Waverley School. We were talking after the suicide of a friend and someone came up with the idea that we should make a podcast; not knowing it would be a mental health podcast. So we turned on our phone and we talked for an hour. Then a couple of weeks later one of the boys we knew growing up took their life.
Luca: He always seemed a happy kid. We knew him from our community. We were close. Everyone knew who he was. That night we checked our phones and it said that he’d taken his life. It was a wake-up call. Someone who seemed so happy, so normal was actually fighting these demons.
Lochie: After a suicide takes place you see all these messages posted on social media. And the immediate reactions are that “we’ve got to stop this” and about two weeks after no one says a word. And we wanted to do something that would actually carry some weight and that’s when we did something about it and got into contact with Radio Hub, who we knew through a mate at school.
We want to make mental health an approachable topic for young people.
Patrick: It started with us having a laugh in the car and then we thought with that suicide that we wanted to keep the conversation going after the first week. We have to get on top of this ASAP. It’s not something we can beat around the bush about.
What’s the mandate of Turn up the Talk?
Lochie: We want to make mental health an approachable topic for young people. We felt that, being men ourselves, we could relate best with young men. But it’s for everyone.
You’re on the cusp of your own lives, how will you fit it in? (Luca plays for the Roosters and Lochie and Patrick are both studying PE at university.
Lochie: For me personally, this is my main priority at the moment.
Patrick: It’s not a job for us. It’s something we really want to do.
We don’t see it as something we have to make time for. We make time for other things around this.
Lochie: And the guys at Radio Hub have pushed us and said that this is a big topic, you boys have to do it.
How has the support been so far from young people?
Lochie: Amazing. So we came into Radio Hub, got a name and did a logo. And we posted that night and we got 500 followers.
Patrick: Without having recorded a minute of audio.
Lochie: It was just a name “Turn up the Talk”, and we said that we are mental health podcast and we want to talk about mental health together.
They didn’t even know what it was, but everyone got behind us in our community. We have 1200 followers with over 1000 listeners for our trailer.
Luca: I go out on the weekend and people come up to me and ask, “Are you dong that podcast?” and I say “yeah, do you like it?” and they say, “You don’t know how much it means to me.”
Why do you think it struck a chord so quickly?
Patrick: Everyone could do what we are dong. We are not qualified at all. If I thought six months ago if I was doing a podcast I’d laugh to myself. So it’s not about ego. It’s about being honest, and we’ve let our own egos go to try to keep the conversation going. And people want to talk about it. Anxiety is everywhere.
I thought six months ago if I was doing a podcast I’d laugh to myself. So it’s not about ego.
Lochie, Luca and Patrick shared with me that they all have seen psychologists in relation to their own mental health journeys.
Patrick: I go to Headspace and speak to a psychologist there. I’ve seen a psychologist since February this year. I take antidepressants and have been taking anti-anxiety tablets because I’ve had really heavy anxiety this year. I started taking three a day. But I’ve recently come off them and I feel pretty good. I know that I have to get out and be active and that when I feel like sitting in staring at the walls all day I’ve got to get out, stay busy. We have good friends with whom I stay out late till I’m tired and then I go home and pass out.
Exercise and a swim helps me. When I’m feeling bad, I just go to the beach and it helps me sort myself out.
Luca: I’ve been seeing a psychologist since I’ve been sixteen. I know for me that exercise is an important way to control my mental health.
Lochie: Exercise and a swim helps me. When I’m feeling bad, I just go to the beach and it helps me sort myself out.
What about alcohol? Does it hurt or help with anxiety?
Luca: It’s a touchy subject. It is a drug and it can be really bad for you. But there’s nothing better sometimes than going out with your mates for a beer.
Patrick: It depends, but for me. Last year I was going out every weekend. This year I’ve drunk around seven times because of how I felt the next day; the emotional response. If I have a really big night, I feel crap for a week. You have to weigh it up. Do I have this night knowing I’m going to feel bad for a week or do I not drink? You’ve got to get yourself right. You’ve can’t say I’m feeling bad and go out and numb the pain. You’ve got to get yourself right away from all that stuff before you can go and do that stuff.
People see alcohol as an escape. It’s all good and it’s all fine till you go home to yourself and you’ve got those demons.
Lochie: I’ve stopped drinking a fair bit, and that was when I was worst with my anxiety.
Luca: People see alcohol as an escape. It’s all good and it’s all fine till you go home to yourself and you’ve got those demons.
What have you learned about when someone comes to you to discuss mental health? Has the podcast helped you learn how to respond to that?
Lochie: It’s as simple as listening. People might feel scared because you don’t have an answer. When people come to you think, I don’t know what to tell you, I don’t know what to do but you should lift that weight off your shoulders of having to be responsible and just listen.
Patrick: Like what we are doing now (our interview). I don’t think I could do this by myself but by having two of my best mates beside me that just makes it so as simple.
Lochie: You should be listening to listen and not listening to respond.
Luca, can you take what you are learning into the NRL?
Luca: If you ask any sports star there are always injuries, always adversity, there’s always something wrong or something right. I feel that talking to my mates and my teammates about the podcast is the best thing I can do. I feel that I can help by bringing this with me into footy.
Is there an endgame to the podcast?
Patrick: We just want to grow. Not for our own benefit. The more people we reach, the more people we can help.
Lochie: We have been talking about this. And we want to set this up for a not for profit and if we can get enough support for season one, we will do another season and we may partner with Gus Worland’s Gotcha4Life Foundation and the RUOK? Foundation. We will do a mental first aid course, which makes us able to go into schools to talk about it. We will learn how to talk to young kids on this topic. Provide the skills to young people.
So you want to take Turn up the Talk into schools?
Lochie: We’d love to. I know with PE there is a new syllabus coming in that’s about skills. It’s about recognising about what we can do to help others and ourselves.
Patrick: We aren’t about being professionals and offering advice. It’s about sharing stories and about showing that it’s a normal thing to be going through anxiety and though it doesn’t feel normal, it is. And that’s not something you should ever be ashamed about.
Has this changed the nature of your friendship?
Luca: 100 per cent. We rely on each other more. We have people who tell us that they don’t have a good support network. And I think, how good do we have it? We’ve grown up with a support network. I’ve used it since we’ve started this podcast. I use our friendship in a different way now, in that I can rely on people more and talk to people more about how I’m feeling. I feel that our relationship has changed for the better.
Patrick: Especially doing it all together. It’s a bit daunting going on and talking about ourselves. As much as we promote speaking out, we don’t shy away from that it is a daunting thing to do. Personally, talking about what we’ve been through, I was never 100 per cent accepting of it, and then we said just do it. And it was daunting but we did it together.
Lochie: I would never have done it by myself. I wouldn’t have put up a podcast about my problems and released it.
Has this changed the relationships in your life?
Lochie: I think for all of us, our friends around us have felt that we are the people that they could always come and talk too and I know that we’ve had a couple of experiences with our close mates at the start of the year with mental health. A lot of people are proud of it and we want to make it their podcast. It’s not just us. We’ve ordered 50 T-shirts and we are going to give them to our close mates because it’s for them.
We don’t’ want to make it that you can’t drink, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. We are mates and we don’t want to act like angels.
Patrick: We don’t’ want to make it that you can’t drink, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. We are mates and we don’t want to act like angels. We do go out and we do drink. We want to be ourselves and relate to the average person, because anxiety and depression happens to the average person.
Luca: We think it’s not our podcast, it’s everyone’s podcast.
Turn up the Talk Podcast: https://player.whooshkaa.com/shows/turn-up-the-talk
Lifeline: 13 11 14
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