The mental health of men has continued to decline, especially in terms of alcohol and drug, suicide, depression, anxiety and violence. These are all symptoms of internal breakdown and disconnection. However, a lot of the work to remedy this has focussed on awareness, promotion and management of symptoms. This has not worked. Something innovative and revolutionary needs to be done. Drawing on 12 years of experience working with Indigenous men, we are proposing a two stage process to heal the mental health of men across Australia. Roslyn Snyder has run a successful healing program called the Healing through the ‘Map of Loss’ which teaches a process of healing using established psychological techniques, art and connection to Mother Earth in award winning and best practice programs for youth and Aboriginal mental health. However, this has worked for small groups of between 5 and 10 and what this program is proposing is to connect and integrate this into a network with the creation of an Earth Army. As Aboriginal men and women belong to the land, we are starting with them.
The Earth Army is a group of men (and women) trained to be advocates, mentors and leaders. These people will be recruited from mostly Indigenous communities across Australia, specifically from the Land and Sea councils, Aboriginal Medical Services and local Aboriginal Corporations (whom we have worked with before). People will be selected by their local communities, ideally between the ages of 30 and 45 who are connected to Mother Earth. These people will go through our training program, a two day map, a two day compass, one day theory, one day applications, one day, being a mentor on a healing camp (total of 7 days). This program will empower and shows them how everyone and everything is connected. The training will be conducted in groups of 15 to 20 over a four to six month period. The outcomes of this stage is that they will be empowered within their families and communities to empower others and build capacity within their communities, also be able to assist young people going through the Earth School, so it builds sustainability. Additionally, they will also start to recruit people, especially men for the healing component. The cost to train each person is approximately $6,600 this includes accommodation, travel (flights) and meals. Each community or individual contributes $2,200, WISDOM in Your Life contributes $2,200 and we need sponsors to contribute $2,200 or part thereof.
The Healing camps. These will be run for up to 60 people, any age, any need of healing, Indigenous or not with between 15 and 20 mentors who belong to the Earth Army. We run the Map of Loss program over three days/four nights (as we did in maximum security prison). While Shaun and Roslyn facilitate the overall program, participants are in small groups of 3 to 6, led by a member of the Earth Army, who take them through each activity. Each day teaches them a range of processes to heal day to day stress, trans-generational trauma and deeply buried emotional pain. The cost for someone to attend the healing camp is $1 200 per person, this includes accommodation, meals and the workshop. Sponsorship is $400/person or part thereof.