Terry Cornick, or ‘Mr Perfect’, is one of the pioneers leading the charge on men’s mental health issues locally. Here he tells us how he came to be running BBQs that save lives…

“It all started because one of my best mates used to tease me at work and call me ‘Mr. Perfect’. He thought I had it all – money, lived in a beautiful place, had a wife, I travelled, etc. He did not know my childhood and history and the battles I was going through for most of my life.

A lot of men feel this expectation to be perfect. I told my mates in the pub one day about my problems and they didn’t run away (in fact they mentioned they had their own issues). I also read a Beyond Blue report around the same time about men’s “connectedness” and how, as we get over 30, generally we lose touch with our close ones and can be isolated.

Writing was my therapy so ‘Mr. Perfect’ started as me writing a book, then a blog, then morphed into the community it is today. It exists to create a judgement-free society for men. We are a grassroots, ‘pre-crisis’ charity that encourages conversation and connection in a supportive and inclusive environment. The key vehicles of delivery are our weekly Meetup BBQs across Australia. Online we support men and their families through our blogs and forums.

The overall goal is to support more men. I have a few other hats I wear – I run my own consultancy, I will be a father of two in June this year, I founded a football club and work on a few other creative initiatives. So time (and funds) are limited to grow Mr. Perfect, hence we need more people to take on Meetups in their towns across Australia with our full back-end support.

Mental health issues are beyond an epidemic. In my opinion we are suffering for a number of reasons: pressures to be masculine but still be sensitive, pressures to bring in a sizeable income but still be a perfect husband and/or father, pressures on body image, pressures to absorb traumatic childhoods, the list is endless.

Ironically some of our most vocal support is from women, and I think that itself highlights how much they want things to change too. Progress is being made but I want to see more men listening to each other on a one-to-one level and talking less about football and more about their struggles.

We are not about “awareness”, which is my most disliked word. We as a world are all “aware” of the issues but choose not to take real action to change them. Taking real personal action is hard. Donating occasional money or posting on social media about supporting a charity is not real action to support men and their mental health unfortunately. Time, being relatable, listening and patience are the most important things we can give.

Being busy is truly the only natural way for me to try to keep the negative voices at bay and gives me purpose. But without doubt my family comes first. I barely ever miss getting up to my boy in the morning and the same for being home to play, bath, feed then read to him. On weekends he is the priority and the rest fits in around when he is in bed! I used to exercise a lot but now running around doing the daily stuff keeps me fit as does running around after my son.

For any men out there experiencing issues, I’d say find a peer group who are going through similar struggles. Remember there is always tomorrow and no matter how hard it is, I guarantee you, you are worth more than you know and can be an inspiration to even more men in turn by reaching out for help.

When you are ready for clinical help do your research and be prepared to try a few options to find what works for you. Medication may not be the answer, but neither may yoga or meditation. Finally you are not a burden, and at Mr. Perfect you have a safe space to just be you. We offer a friendly face, a judgement-free space, a chance to share or just listen and a free feed in the sun ideally!

Mr Perfect is now 5 years old, holds around 40 monthly BBQs across the country and has their Northern Beaches BBQ at Freshwater Beach, right at the public park behind the beach and cafe area. It has been a huge success and has brought men together from all over the Northern Beaches region to connect over a free feed and some great company. The feedback from such a simple idea has been overwhelming, with men forging some purpose and meaning even amidst challenging times.”

For details on the next Mr. Perfect Meetup BBQ see the website for details. www.mrperfect.org.au/ and you can follow the Facebook Group here: https://www.facebook.com/misterperfectau

Terry also won the Westfield Warringah Mall Local Heroes award in 2019 for his efforts, and recently was chosen to promote the campaign for 2021, filming a video series at Dee Why Beach. You can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwIVokx6h4w

If you’d like to read about another inspiring local organisation championing mental health amongst young people, click here. 

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