So, why is no one telling Mick Fanning to 'man up'?

Why is Goodes supposed to ‘man up’ while it’s OK for Fanning to show vulnerability?

Surfer Mick Fanning admitted on 60 Minutes last night he is going to seek psychological counselling to cope with the emotional aftermath of his terrifying recent shark encounter in South Africa.

Yet, after admitting he “needs help” and is experiencing horrific nightmares, today there has not been a single word written in the media calling him a wimp, complainer or urging him to ‘man up”.

Are surfing fans are more empathetic and well, sensible, than the AFL’s? Because when Adam Goodes says he is emotionally wounded, damaged and disturbed by the thousands of fans booing every time he handles a football, or the taunts of “Abo” and “Ape”, the proud Indigenous player constantly cops he is, according to many, a big wuss who should put up or shut up.

Which has led me to wonder why, is Goodes supposed to “man up” while it’s okay for Fanning to show vulnerability? Is it per chance that every Australian can relate to the terror of a shark but only a minority understands what it’s like to be hated for your colour, your looks and ethnicity?

Not that I am putting Fanning down – I am most definitely not. In fact, I applaud him for admitting he needs help because here is salient fact – Australian men need to acknowledge mental health issues more. What’s more, they need to seek help and tell others they are doing so.

After a weekend of support with the #IStandWithAdam campaign, Adam Goodes is preparing to return to the field. (Post continues after gallery).

Just look at the stats. According to the Black Dog Institute, men are at greatest risk of suicide but least likely to seek help. In 2010 men accounted for over three-quarters (76.9%) of deaths from suicide however, an estimated 72% of males don’t seek help for mental disorders. Other groups, including Indigenous Australians, people in rural and remote areas, gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender people and children are also at greatest risk (Considering Goodes is male and indigenous, it is a blessing he’s still with us).

While rates of depression are slightly higher in women (one in six or 17 per cent) compared to one in 10 for men, the general consensus is that men are reluctant to admit they have a problem and, as such, the stats could well be flawed and the amount of men suffering much higher than estimated.


Ask any mental health professional what stops men seeking help and the answer will be that men worry that such an admission is a show of weakness. It is not manly to have depression, blokes should be able to deal with it on their own, that it’s just the blues and it will pass. But, as anyone who has suffered a clinical depression knows (my hand is up here), depression is a complicated beast and, if recurring, requires medical intervention – counselling, therapy and/or medication.

Beyond Blue backs up this view, noting that “in general, men tend to put off getting any kind of help because they think they are supposed to be tough, self-reliant, able to manage pain and take charge of situations. This can make it hard for men to acknowledge they have any health problems, let alone a mental health problem.

Watch the moment Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark in South Africa. Post continues below.

“Depression is a serious and common condition which won’t get better by itself,” the national initiative to raise awareness of anxiety and depression adds. “If you had a broken arm or a deep cut on your foot, you wouldn’t expect that to heal without medical help. It’s the same with depression.”

So, to anyone still arguing that Goodes should “man up” I say you should shut up. Let’s applaud men who talk openly of their feelings and/or/ battles with mental illness. It shouldn’t take a close encounter with a white pointer for it to be OK to seek mental help.

What do you think about people telling Adam Goodes to “man up”?

For more on Mick Fanning and Adam Goodes, try these… 

The powerful newspaper front page that makes us proud to be Australian.

Today, Mick Fanning did something that made him a role model. And it wasn’t punching a shark.

We should not be booing Adam Goodes. We should be celebrating him.

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