Sunshine Coast butcher lights up barbecue for men’s mental health

For Brenton Harris and some of the guys at his butcher shop, it’s a regular way to spend Friday afternoons.

Laughter, friendly faces, grilled meat and a few non-alcoholic beers.

“I think we’re building something really special, and the whole community is rooting for us,” Harris said.

Mr. Harris and his wife, Mel, bought the store in Forest Glen on the Sunshine Coast just about four months ago.

They soon began hosting free barbecues every Friday afternoon to give men a chance to chat with other guys.

“When we heard the news of Paul Green’s death, it hit me pretty hard,” Harris said.

Green, a former Queensland home state coach and rugby league star, committed suicide at the age of 49 during August.

Harris said she had cousins ​​who had also taken their own lives.

“I told my wife, ‘I wouldn’t mind trying to do a little bit of things to raise a little bit of awareness so guys know there are places they can come and talk about their feelings and stuff and make it a little more normal,'” he said.

Brenton Harris, butcher and owner of Original Forest Glen Butchery over a barbecue in front of his shop
Brenton Harris, owner of the Original Forest Glen Butchery, is pleased with the developing community spirit.(ABC News: Olivia Mason)

‘Gives me goosebumps’

Brenton’s wife has been by his side every step of the way.

“Brenton is also going through some mental health issues, coming out on the other side,” Mel said.

“It’s great for him to be able to help other guys.”

Mel said that by providing a forum for men to communicate openly, she had noticed some positive changes among regular customers.

“Men like to bottle things up and they don’t like to talk about their feelings,” she said.

“I get goosebumps every Friday. It’s great.”

Shane King and Travis Pettit are regular attendees and members of the Grab Life by the Balls men’s health group.

“One of the best things guys can do for their health is have three close teammates,” King said.

They believed that events like this were helping men connect with like-minded types and find a sense of belonging within the community.

“A guy showed up and said, ‘I’m just going to be here for a minute,’ and he was here for two and a half hours last week, so it’s unbelievable,” Pettit said.

“It’s very much needed in the community and Brenton has done a great job of it.”

Brenton Harris with Shane King and Travis Pettit
king shane [L] Brenton Harris [C] and Travis Petit [R] meet up for another session in the store.(ABC News: Olivia Mason)

Research supports social connection

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing, men are three to four times more likely to take their own life than women.

Central Queensland University psychologist and professor Chris Crawford said the concept of social interaction as a tool for positive mental health was supported by research.

“We know that when people are socially connected, when they interact with other people, that prevents or is a preventative factor in suicidal ideation and suicidal actions,” he said.

Crawford said one-on-one interactions could help change people’s perspectives on difficult circumstances and provide a sense of hope, but most beneficial was the ability to connect and build lasting relationships.

That could be through existing friendships, or by connecting with people at events like a butcher’s cookout, man sheds, or by volunteering with an organization.

He said research showed that men who attended men’s sheds, for example, experienced benefits beyond better mental health.

“The researchers also found that people who attended the men’s sheds had better blood pressure,” Crawford said.

“Their glucose levels became more aligned, they were fitter, they were more active, and even things like their diet improved.

“The kind of health benefits that come from these kinds of social interactions go far beyond just changes in thinking.”

Plans to grow the barbecue event

Harris said she wanted to be part of a cultural change.

“I think young people were raised to be the man of the house, and the man of the house is supposed to be kind of a tough guy and he can’t show his feelings, his emotions or whatever, and I think that’s something. from the past,” he said.

A Wagyu steak that Brenton Harris grilled for the men on Friday afternoon
Brenton Harris grills some Wagyu beef steaks for the men to try.(ABC News: Olivia Mason)

Mr. Harris said it was important to him to make a difference in real life, whether it was helping a family that was struggling or paying attention.

He added that it was not about likes on social networks or filming good deeds.

“I think it’s more genuine if it’s just an interaction between you and the person coming in,” Harris said.

“I enjoy helping people, not posting on social media.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *