DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS: Paul McGovern, Robert Canning and Mitchell Clarke are behind the Man Up Dominating Depression initiative.
DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS: Paul McGovern, Robert Canning and Mitchell Clarke are behind the Man Up Dominating Depression initiative. TREVOR VEALE

Joining forces and 'manning up' to fight depression

AT 19 Mitchell Clarke returned to Coffs Harbour from the trip of a lifetime

"I'd travelled the world and been to more countries than any 19-year-old could dream of visiting."

But then everything came crashing down as he struggled to return to a regular routine and tragedy touched his life.

"I lost 11 friends in 12 months to a combination of suicide and car accidents."

He spiralled into a depression and ended up spending three weeks in the mental health ward at Coffs Harbour hospital.

"I felt like a rat in a cage. Almost a year later I have progressed greatly through my depression."

Now he is bravely sharing his story and joining forces with two other local men to help tackle the illness.

Mitchell, in collaboration with Paul McGovern and Robert Canning, are organising the Man Up Domination Depression camping event in Urunga on the weekend of March 29. All three are from very diverse backgrounds and they're hoping to welcome a broad cross section to the event.

"You can be rich or poor, black or white, but you just feel like a broken person, like there's something wrong with you.

"We're not going to fix the problem, we're going to discuss the problem," Mr McGovern said.

The three men have all struggled with depression at different times in their lives and all believe in the healing power of men coming together to share their stories and show others they're not alone.

"There will be workshops and activities designed for men to talk about our experience as we tend to let it boil up inside and then before you know it. It explodes."

There has been some criticism of the use of the term 'man up' in the title of the event but as Mitchell explains, it's an attempt to de stigmatise the phrase.

"It's more along the lines of stand up and speak out."

Mr McGovern, a christian pastor who has also battled depression, emphasises the need to provide hope for men suffering depression.

"I don't know how I got there but you feel like you're jumping out of your skin, your mind races a million miles an hour and you think 'just take me now'."

But now as he recovers he wants to show other men there is light at the end of the tunnel.

To make the camp a reality the men have set up a gofund me page. To donate go to MUDD Man up, Dominating depression.