Before Gus Worland's three-part documentary Man Up: One Bloke’s Mission to Save Aussie Men aired on ABC TV in October, he told WHO he wanted to start a nationwide conversation about men's mental health, preventing suicide, and redefining masculinity. "In the world that is out there now," he said, "we don't have to be that old-fashioned stoic Australian anymore."
Since the series concluded, the radio host on Triple M's The Grill Team says he has gotten remarkable feedback. "I'm chuffed," Worland, 44, tells WHO of the thousands of personal letters he's received. "I didn't realise how many people were out there that were hurting and how many people were doing that in silence."
While he admits to being sad about that fact, Worland is encouraged that people have reached out to him and have looked for information on the Man Up organisation website. "They have said that they now feel like they've got a voice," Worland explains, "that they now feel that they can go and ask for help and that it's actually something that's going to be understood and even appreciated instead of being looked upon as a weakness or a vulnerability."
Among the 11,500 letters that have come his way, "37 out of those said that they were planning to take their own life and are not going to do it now," Worland says. "People said to me as we were doing the series that if you save one life, your job would have been done. Well I know for certain that I've saved 37, because they've written to me and said, 'Look, I bought the rope,' or, 'I actually planned how I was going to do it, and I was shitting myself to do it, but now I'm not going to do it and I'm going to seek help instead.'"
The unabashed crier adds, "God, I don't think I have any tears left. It's so full-on and so beautiful that we've touched people in such a way that it's going to make them be healthier and happier that it makes me feel very, very good."
Beyond the series, which can be viewed in its entirety on ABC iView and the Man Up site, Worland's public service campaign video has garnered more than 30 million views on television, YouTube and through various outlets.
"There is no doubt in the world this is the most important thing I've ever done," Worland says.
Now, while he tries to respond personally to each letter he's been sent, Worland has met with Sussan Ley, the Australian Minister for Health, to discuss how best to educate boys on emotional awareness in school. Worland is also coming up with ideas for a second series. "I've got Man Up 2 in my head," he says. "I'm not sure exactly what it will be, but there are so many issues which we only scratched the surface of in Man Up that perhaps we can dig into those a little bit more."
Whatever is in the works, "I feel like I've only just started," Worland says. "What we have to do now is make sure that we keep the conversation going for as long as possible."
For help with depression, contact Lifeline: 131 114; lifeline.org.au.