How to make mental health a comfortable discussion with your partner

This week, we spoke with Terry Cornick, Founder & President of Mr. Perfect, a grassroots mental health support network based in Sydney.

We absolutely love the work Mr Perfect does encouraging men and women to feel comfortable talking about mental health, and Terry's honest and personal approach to sharing his own mental health issues.

Mr. Perfect is a sarcastic nod to the male approach to mental health. It was an oblivious nickname my best mate gave me. It is a metaphor for what the world expects us to be. It is the mask we wear.
Terry Cornick, Mr Perfect Founder 

Why did you create Mr Perfect? Who is it for?
Mr. Perfect was inspired by my own battle for most of my life with depression, PTSD, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Everyone on the outside thought I was Superman and my best mate joked unknowingly and would tease me and call me "Mr. Perfect". I figured if I am "coping" then there will be a hell of a lot of other men out there that need help.

Mr. Perfect is not just for men although of course that is the general focus. It is completely inclusive, supportive and approachable and is for men that have suffered with their mental health and everyone else that has touched, male, female or other. We aim to expand our online support next year if we can get some sponsorship backing but our monthly Meetup BBQs in Sydney have been a great success.

Do you think that guys and girls have different mental health issues?
I could go down the party line here and say we are completely different but the truth is I do not think guys and girls have dramatically different mental health issues. We have some, but we certainly have different ways of dealing with them.

I believe arguably men struggle with the notion of masculinity and what it means to be a man and that can be a big factor for a lot of men. Perhaps women also have a similar struggle and their mental health issues predominantly arise from what it means to be feminine, a great mum, wife, and now they absorb a big chunk of the old school ethos of providing financially for their family.

Our ideas of what is a man's job and of gender are very gradually dissipating which I hope releases some of that tension that has built for everyone.

What does your typical day weekday look like?
6am - Wake up to hearing my 8 month-old son Finn talking and squawking from his room. Pick him up, change his nappy, briefly play & pass to mum to feed.
6:45am - Head to work on the bus, thankfully door to door.
7:30am - Twice a week work out with our personal trainer (paid for by work)
8:20am - Start my "work day". I recruit Doctors as a Healthcare Consultant
Midday - Spend at least 30 minutes outside going for a walk & then sitting down for some time-out overlooking an oval next to our work - it's a great spot.
5:00pm - Head home from work
5:30pm - Walk through the door to my wife and son and play with him until bath-time
6:15pm - Bath my son
6:45pm - Have dinner & spend time with my wife
8:00pm - 10:30pm - Work on Mr. Perfect and personal admin, research, reading, watching documentaries
10:30pm - Bed

A weekend consists of spending a lot of time playing, feeding and taking my son for a walk in his Ergo carrier! As a family we love the beach. And when not doing this playing football in the winter season.

What tip would you give to a wife/ girlfriend/ sister trying to help a loved one deal with mental health issues?
Never ever ever blame yourself or think you could have intervened earlier or changed anything. Simply observe, listen and be patient. I did a great "Accidental Counsellor" course with Lifeline Australia recently and it opened my mind hugely.

You are not there to fix anything and you are not a professional. There are plenty of others out there that are. Sometimes just listening and being with that person unconditionally is enough to see them through but always remember they have to make the move to "get help", you can never do that for them unless it is an emergency and in that case you call 000 immediately.

Favourite relaxation or mindfulness tip?
I am terrible at relaxing and I am just learning mindfulness so it sounds very cliche, but try to be "present" a few times a day at least. There is so much additional "noise" going on in our lives that we think it's almost normal to be robotic-like.

Terry Cornick is the Founder & President of mental health support network, Mr. Perfect.  Mr. Perfect holds FREE informal "Meetups" monthly in Sydney on the last Sunday of the month. The format is simple, informal and completely inclusive. Follow Mr Perfect @misterperfectau

Terry Cornick is the Founder & President of mental health support network, Mr. Perfect

Mr. Perfect holds FREE informal "Meetups" monthly in Sydney on the last Sunday of the month.
The format is simple, informal and completely inclusive.

Follow Mr Perfect @misterperfectau


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