Sunny Coast teen fights mental health stigmas

Tex Warren, a 17-year-old student, from the Sunshine Coast delivered a powerful presentation on men's mental health.

A Year 12 St Andrew’s Anglican College student is on a mission to help break the stigma around men’s mental heath.

Tex Warren, a 17-year-old student, from the Sunshine Coast delivered a powerful and heartfelt presentation on men’s mental health at the College’s annual Soothsayers Competition.

Inspired by the terrifying statistics around men’s mental health revealing a troubling state of play for young men in our schools and our community, Tex took a leap of courage to start the conversation.

“I feel like very few people are talking about the real danger and harm of men’s mental health, and the outdated traditional gender norms, in particular that men don’t talk to each other,” he said.

“At school, within friendship groups, you often see boys having banter and laughing together but there isn’t really opportunity or encouragement for boys to have serious chats…. Girls seem to talk all the time. They have full debriefs if they’re having trouble. But boys don’t.”

His message resonated more than he expected with students, staff and the wider community, who have since rallied behind him, viewing and sharing his message more than 15 thousand times.

This support has spurred him on, giving him the confidence and opportunity to further pursue advocating for and warning young men about the stigma of men’s mental health and empowering them to destroy it and challenge societal norms.

“Social media plays a massive role in the attitudes of young men so we need ways to combat some of the harmful content on the internet such as having genuine connections and regular opportunities to ask questions and debate opinions,” he said.

Organisations like The Man Cave, and Movember, have inspired Tex, especially The Man Cave’s pro-active approach in helping younger boys talk about feelings and asking for help. However, Tex thinks more needs to be done to help enact a cultural shift.

“We need the opportunity for regular, authentic mentoring which will help create a cultural shift. We must build opportunities for connection through sports, music, engines, anything.,” he said.

“I would like to see more people talking to the younger boys about the topic, and about their mental health. I believe that by doing this, the problem will eventually wash out. Dads will be able to talk to their sons about the necessity of talking about your feelings and checking up on your mates.”

He believes schools could be the key in helping to drive this cultural shift.

Starting with simple but meaningful actions, Tex has organised Senior Brekky for the sports teams at St Andrew’s. The idea is that the senior students, both male and female, will cook breakfast for the younger students to celebrate their seasons and to, hopefully, start a tradition amongst the sports team where senior players look out for junior players and authentic connections are developed.

“It needs to be simple things that students buy into otherwise it’s not sincere,” he said.

“The way to challenge misconceptions is through mentoring and getting men to talk. This then builds a strong sense of connection and community which allows boys to speak openly and vulnerably to each other.”

Tex is also in talks with The Man Cave who he hopes will visit St Andrew’s to present in 2025, which would be their first presentation in Queensland.