The crew behind one of Perth’s hottest — or coldest — movements, Cold Nips, has launched a new series targeted at men’s mental health.
Chilly Willys kicked off on January 20 and co-founder Ryan Clinton said the turnout for their inaugural dip and chat was a strong reminder of just how much men need a safe space to connect with one another.
“I was really surprised by the turnout; I thought we’d get around 30 people down there but we had over 100, which was such a good response,” Mr Clinton said.
“I knew I had to be vulnerable to show that it was OK for them to be vulnerable as well and I think a lot of people really resonated with that. I had a lot of good feedback which I was super happy about.
“It left me feeling a bit emotional. It was a really special morning.”
Mr Clinton said the idea for Chilly Willys stemmed from his own experiences and the shocking statistics around men who take their own life.
In Australia, one in eight men will experience depression and one in five anxiety during their lifetime, with men comprising seven of nine suicides that occur on average each day.
“It came from my journey as a man and seeing all of the things that plague us in current society and understating how bad the stats are with male mental health and suicide,” Mr Clinton said.
“I think if you want to see the change you’ve got to be the change … so I felt compelled to give other male-identifying people that safe space like we do at Cold Nips.
“My hopes are that we can leave someone that’s maybe going through a rough period feeling like they’re on a happier path and show that there are new ways of expressing what it is to be a man.”
Chilly Willys sessions will continue fortnightly and alternate between Cottesloe and Scarborough beaches to ensure people across Perth can attend.
After meeting at the designated beach at 5.45am, the group will be led through a series of ‘ice-breaker’ activities before plunging into the ocean together, drying off and sharing conversations over a coffee.
Another leader, Luke A J, hoped the beachside gatherings would lead to greater conversations and connections.
“It’s not often that men come together to connect on a deeper level that isn’t centred around alcohol or other substances or sports or cars,” he said.
“One conversation can change a life; bring a friend, check in on a brotha, we all have a part to play.”
Mr Clinton said the structure was inspired by the Men’s Sheds movement, which encourage mainly older men to be open and vulnerable while working on projects together.
“Men open up when they’re doing something, like what we did on Friday and like what they do in Men’s Sheds all over Australia,” he said.
“They work on stuff together and it’s the moments in between where conversations are sparked and where one of the blokes will ask the other how they’re going and they open up.
“So after we do our activities and then run into the ocean to quite literally break the ice, that’s where the magic happens.”
The next Chilly Willys event is scheduled for Scarborough on February 3. Follow Cold Nips’ Instagram page for additional details ahead of the day.
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