Tim Hewson

Mental ill-health has always been a problem in Australia. Fifty per cent of people will experience a mental health challenge in their lifetime, according to the 2022 World Mental Health Report by the World Mental Health Organisation.

Some three million Australians are impacted by anxiety, and one million have depression. Nine Australians die from suicide every day.

A study from Phillipa Hunt and Steve Prendeville released last year quantifying the toll poor mental health has taken on financial advisers with over half reporting it has ‘significantly declined’.

Their research found 53 per cent of financial services professionals have recently stated that their mental health had ‘significantly declined’. Concerningly, twenty-one per cent has thought about self-harm.

ING national sales manager of wealth and deposits Tim Hewson said at the Professional Planner Advice Practitioner Summit on Wednesday that prioritising work is more challenging at home. In fact, research has found that work-life boundaries have vanished, and incidental exercise has reduced.

“The lack of movement from not commuting, not walking around the office, not walking to meetings, can have an impact on our physical health, which in turn can impact our mental health,” Hewson said.

Hewson pointed to research and numerous case studies showing that regular exercise is good for physical and mental health. It generates endorphins and serotonin to make people feel good, help regulate their mood, better manage their stress, and regulate their sleep. Research states that exercising for 45 minutes three to five times a week can improve well-being by up to 43 per cent.

With some friendly help

Hewson’s passion and knowledge of the topic result from his own struggles with mental health.

In April 2020, he founded Mongrels Men, a community-based charity that seeks to improve men’s physical and mental health through sports, fitness, exercise, connection, and community.

“It began quite innocently with a bunch of blokes getting away for a golf weekend,” he told the summit.

“A friend and I organised it three months in advance. We then organised for a couple of others to come along. My brother, a few of his mates, my sister’s boyfriend, a few of his mates. All of a sudden, we’re a motley bunch of random blokes from all walks of life.”

It became a competition, and Hewson said this required a trophy.

“For a trophy, you need a name,” Hewson said.