• Sat. May 14th, 2022

Barstool Brothers mental health support group increases caseload during COVID lockdown

It started as a men’s support group based at one of Wollongong’s busiest bars and has become a vital lifeline during Greater Sydney’s lockdown now in its fourth week.

The Barstool Brothers have grown into a network of almost 1,000 and the founder of the group said the need for the organization has never been greater.

“We have noticed an increase in activity on our Facebook page in the form of guys telling their story, raising their hands and saying they were having a hard time during this time,” said Lachlan Stevens.

“It’s a call to action for us to go and lend a hand.”

Mr Stevens is the owner of His Boy Elroy Bar and delivered free burgers every night and all day Friday to the men who asked for help.

He said the deliveries offered a crucial moment of social connection.

Wollongong Bar owner Lachlan Stevens said a brief chat with someone to deliver a free burger can have a big impact.(Facebook: the stool brothers)

“We go to their place, social distanced, deliver a burger and say hello,” Stevens said.

“These guys can’t wait for us to go out and having that kind of impact in someone’s life is incredibly important to us and the leaders of the Barstool Brothers community.”

“We don’t want people to bottle it”

The Facebook page has become a safe space where men feel comfortable talking about their issues.

Lachlan Stevens said it was nice to see a key mental health message put into practice.

“Barstool Brothers is a great medium where people can express their feelings.

“We don’t want people pushing it back, so we try to identify those most at risk, provide an ear to listen to them and build that social connection with them during this time.”

Dan Hunt works for the NRL to promote an open attitude towards mental illness.
Retired NRL Dragons player Dan Hunt now uses his mental health experience to help others.(ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)

Former NRL player leads the conversation

Former St George Illawarra Dragons player Dan Hunt is now the CEO and founder of the Mental Health Movement.

His organization is partnering with the Barstool Brothers to offer a free Zoom session on Thursday, July 22 at 6:00 p.m. to offer advice based on the Mental Health Movement’s Coping Through Covid toolkit.

“It will also give our members a chance to ask tough questions specific to them.”

Containment wreaks havoc on small businesses

As Lachlan Stevens roams Wollongong to offer free burgers and a brief moment of social interaction, he also endures the stress of the impact of the foreclosure on his own business.

He said the lingering uncertainty makes it hard to feel settled.

“We have been well supported by the community, but many small businesses have gone out of business and are facing pressures of uncertainty.

The government has announced relief programs, but it is also difficult to understand eligibility, and although the Service NSW site is now open to apply for grants, for a long time it has not had this information on the site. “