Teen gives men a voice

Jonty Lee outside of Headpsace Geelong (Rebecca Hosking) 210651_01

By Luke Voogt

A Belmont teen, who battled “dark” times following the death of his mum, will hold a 24-hour live-stream to raise money for mental health group Headspace.

Jonty Lee hoped to encourage people struggling with mental health issues to call for help, following five youth suicides in Geelong this year.

“Especially with men, there’s still a little bit of stigma, it’s seen as weak,” the 17-year-old said.

“You don’t need to keep your feelings locked away.

“If you speak up and ask for help – whether it’s friends or professionals – you can vent your frustrations and feelings.

“If you don’t, it can get to a really bad stage where you’re thinking about suicide.”

Jonty did not know any of the youths that committed suicide personally but said some of his friends had.

“I’ve seen … just how devastating it is. Something needs to be done.”

Jonty was 13 when he lost his mum to complications from muscular dystrophy in January 2017.

“It was really tough at the time for my dad and me,” he said.

But telling friends and family how he was feeling helped him stay “out of a dark place”, he said.

He hopes to share that message by interviewing mates and other men about their mental health struggles during the live-stream.

“[COVID-19] isolation has messed with a lot of people and their routine,” he said.

“Someone might be watching and say, ‘It’s alright, I can speak up too’.”

Jonty thanked locals for raising an “unreal” $4947 for Headspace so far for the Instagram live-stream beginning at 12pm on Sunday.

His dad was “really proud” of his efforts, he said.

“It’s such an important topic and he knows that, especially given what we’ve been through as a family.”

For information search ‘Jonty Lee’ on Instagram or visit www.gofundme.com/f/jonty039s-men039s-mental-health-and-suicide-awareness.

For help phone Lifeline on 131114 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.