Life has its challenges for Fredric Holten.
After living through childhood trauma, he now deals with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
“I’ve spent the past 20 months working through those issues in a proactive way with professionals, as well as with public and private hospitals, and I’m happy to say I’m in an okay place,” Mr Holten said.
While he had access to professional help, Mr Holten wanted a more casual way to connect with others who were experiencing similar situations to him.
That’s when he was introduced to ‘Mr Perfect.’
Founded by Terry Cornick, Mr Perfect is a grassroots pre-crisis charity that brings men together at barbecues in local parks across Australia to encourage better mental health.
“One of my mental health professionals told me about Mr Perfect, so I went onto the Facebook site and did a lot of research and ended up having a telephone conversation with founder Terry, who I found to be a very inspirational man,” Mr Holten said.
“The way he talked about mental health invigorated me and excited me about the project.”
The barbecues were suggested as a way of reducing Mr Holten’s isolation, something he says many with mental illness experience.
“One of the areas I found there was a lack of support in was casual support for men,” he said.
“There was no real group where you can get together in a casual way and chat, apart from online, and I needed personal connection, as with PTSD you isolate yourself, and with anxiety and depression, people isolate themselves quite severely.
“The more we isolate, the less likely we are to get help, we sit at home and ruminate over the challenges, we think we’re not good enough, so to be able to come along and get outdoors would be a win in their day-to-day life.
“I made contact to find out if there was a barbecue for Maitland and was advised by the founder, Terry, that there had been none since March as the host had fallen ill.
“I said: ‘Cool I will host them’ and I put my hand up for it.”
Mr Cornick grew up with mental health challenges, but it wasn’t until he was 30 that he realised he needed professional help.
It was at the same age he realised social connections for men his age usually drop, and many weren’t having important discussions.
“I told my mates what was happening and they said they were experiencing something similar,” Mr Cornick said.
“So I put an ad on Gumtree for a catchup and 40 people turned up.
“We kicked the footy and sat around and chatted, something I had not done for years.
“That kind of morphed into the barbecues, which we did in parks in Sydney, and then we had people from different locations set up their own.”
There are now 32 Mr Perfect barbecues held around the county.
The Maitland barbecue will be held at Walka Water Works on Sunday 22 November between 10.30am and 12.30pm.
Click here to register.