Making Mental Health Mainstream
Lachlan Samuels on ‘Open Up Podcast’
Once upon a time, Mental Health was a topic that was rarely discussed. Unlike going to the hospital when you had a broken leg, taking care of your mind and your wellbeing were avoided. Going to a psychologist to talk and unload, wasn’t a thing people did. People said they were ‘okay’, when in fact, they really weren’t.
It was a topic that was not only avoided but also a topic that we really didn’t know much about, nor did we have the tools to help ourselves and others find ways to deal with what we/they were enduring. However, we are definitely getting better! I feel that we are on the right track to making Mental Health an everyday normal topic that we discuss and with the likes of people like Lachlan Samuels, making it one of his life goals to make Mental Health mainstream, I have no doubt it is going to happen sooner rather than later.
‘I want to make mental health mainstream. I believe that when I achieve it, we’ll have a world with minimal negative or toxic interactions because we won’t feel the need to wear masks or defend ourselves when we know we’re wrong. We won’t feel the need to attack because we’ll all be vulnerable enough to know we can behave better.’ Lachlan Samuels
I have had the honour of getting to know Lachlan on a personal level (meeting at a Man Enough Movement Event) and he is as kind, friendly, open and welcoming as he appears on his socials. For those of you who haven’t yet heard of him or his business ‘Open Up’, Lachlan is the Open Up Podcast Creator and Host. He is a public speaker for Mental Health and also a FIFO strategist. Recently he started the FIFO Mental Health Summit where the goal is to bring together leaders within the FIFO industry to introduce them to tools that will positively impact the mental health of their people and their workplace. It’s the first of its kind which is super exciting!
You wouldn’t know looking at this smiling face above that there was a time when this smile was just a front. Even when I had the opportunity of meeting Lachlan he was fighting internal battles that none of us knew about or could even see. Lachlan, while working FIFO, struggled with his own mental health, experiencing a very deep depression which sadly lead to him masking his suffering with other coping habits. He wasted his life savings on a business that went bust and found himself not only depressed but also broke. Having had to borrow money to keep on top of the adult life requirements we all face; debt, rent, child support, Lachlan found himself feeling more and more like a burden. He was at his lowest of lows and heartbreakingly attempted to take his life.
It was in this attempt and in the moments after, that he realised just how much the decision he was going to make would destroy his little girl’s life and so, he made a change. It was this particular moment in Lachlan’s life that was the catalyst in seeing him begin to develop himself and grow.
‘Honestly, it was the first time in my life I had put anyone else first,’ Samuel shares.
After the attempt on his life and losing his FIFO gig, Lachlan invested a lot of time into working on himself. In fact, a year after this all occurred is where ‘Open Up’ initially started. Initiated as a closed Facebook group, ‘Open Up’ was created as a safe place for people (just like Lachlan) to share what they were going through with no judgement, no negative comments, just full support. This resulted in people all over the world reaching out to not only ask for guidance but to also share their stories of hardship. During this time, Lachlan was in a good space and felt like he was at the point where he had all the necessary tools in his mental health tool belt to return to FIFO. Sadly after his return, a colleague of his on-site took his life. Lachlan went back through depression and was eventually evacuated from the mine site for being suicidal.
‘That’s why I’m so passionate about this. That’s why I want to make mental health mainstream. So no one ever has to suffer with the thoughts or feeling that they’re alone or misunderstood. To give them hope and show them that positive change is possible, because more often than not, that’s all they really need.’ Lachlan Samuels
As time went on, the closed Facebook group that was ‘Open Up’ was becoming an incredibly powerful support network. It was receiving so much traction that soon enough, ‘Open Up’ became so much more than a private Facebook group. It turned into a Mental Health Podcast. A podcast of interviews with incredible people sharing their hardships and stories of overcoming their lives challenges, what they faced and what tools and strategies they used to overcome it all. You may know some of the faces you see on the Podcast and some you may not but either way it just goes to show that every person you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about, so it is a great reminder to be kind ALWAYS. The ‘Open Up Podcast’ continues on the daily to receive lots of new traction but now ‘Open Up’ has also lead to Lachlan leading and creating FIFO Summits.
‘Initially the intention was to be a mental health podcast and that was it. As the podcast reached more people though, and as more people connected with my FIFO challenges, I was regularly asked to speak for various mining companies. After holding the FIFO mental health summit #1 in Perth, for free, we have since been contacted by 2 major mining companies to provide mental health strategy for their workforces. At the moment the FIFO culture is very much risk mitigation, which is how they’ve always approached safety. Currently most of the mining companies pay for an employee assistance programme and direct their teams to those. The problem is that you have no idea who that person is, so you have no trust or connection allowing you to feel safe enough to open up, which is reflected in the low usage rate across the industry. Our plan is to step in with our strategy, create community, trust and vulnerability, so that when the time is right, we can then refer those who need help, onto health professionals. Open Up is a mental health podcast as well as a FIFO mental health business, providing workshops and strategies to create a mentally healthy FIFO culture.’ Lachlan Samuels
What Lachlan is doing is commendable. It’s encouraging all of us to be vulnerable. To be open with ourselves and others but most importantly, it’s inspiring us to stand up and take care of our own Mental Health. To check in with ourselves and how we are doing. Lachlan left with me with the below and I don’t know about you guys but I know I have felt that timeline pressure and sometimes it is very easy to get caught up in the worry of it all, but honestly life isn’t meant to be lived by timelines. Things will happen when they are meant to and until such times, remember to look after you and enjoy all the little moments in life because in the end, those little moments become the big ones.
‘I think one of the biggest reasons for my mental health issues was the imaginary timeline I set for myself. Having ‘X’ by 30 years old etc. As soon as I shifted away from that and allowed myself to see that this was long term, I went from someone who wanted to die by 55, to someone who wants to live as long as possible, to make as big of an impact as possible. I have 60 years left, and although making mental mainstream is my goal and I believe Ill achieve it, if I don’t, I would have made the world a significantly better place and that’s all that matters.’ Lachlan Samuels
If you want to find out more about Lachlan, Open Up Podcast and what he is doing you can visit his socials below: