09 Sep The Be More Project with Brendan Murray
Interview by Chris McCarroll
Over the last year, the word ‘purpose’ has been swirling around in my head. Did I know what purpose meant to me? Was I heading in the right direction? The short answer is, no. I was in a toxic business relationship, dealing with the loss of 3 family members and trying to be a supportive husband, son and brother. All of this has lead me to surround myself with those who are truly living their purpose. Enter, Brendan Murray.
1. Tell us a bit about your background? Where did you grow up and how did you first get into fitness?
I was born in Blacktown Sydney and moved up to Gold Coast at the age of 8. From Blacktown to Labrador I definitely saw some things growing up and being from the West I always carried a chip on my shoulder. I did the best I could with my father being in and out of jail and both my mother and father struggling with addiction. Lucky for me, I found my love of surfing at an early age and I sacrificed everything I had to surf Straddie with my mates. My love for the surf transitioned into my passion for all things exercise and fitness and I found myself exploring all sports including football, soccer, and boxing. Boxing in particular provided me to a safe place to express my anger, and I found my body’s limits. After a few injuries, I decided to complete my personal training course and fell in love with it. I was able to provide people with a formula for health and help people achieve their goals. Fitness has given me an opportunity to travel Australia from Darwin to Sydney, meet amazing people, and develop my own strength.
2. The Be More Project was born from a vulnerable place – can you expand a little and tell us the story on why you started?
When I was living in Sydney I received the worst phone call anyone could ever imagine; that my mate had taken his life by suicide. I dropped everything, packed up my life and headed home. On the way home, I received another phone call to say my best mate growing up, had paddled out in the seaway and couldn’t be found. To this day we still haven’t recovered his body. This was the worst day of my life to date. Both my mates had a history of mental health issues, addiction, and their own demons they were battling and their deaths left me feeling powerless, and empty. I knew I had to do something, and that I had to make a change. I started attending mental health groups, support meetings, and was left unsatisfied. So, I created my own support service… THE BE MORE PROJECT was created out of vulnerability but also out of necessity to fill a gap in the mental health industry.
3. What are some of the biggest challenges you see in mens mental health at the moment?
Men are faced with so many barriers to accessing mental health support including pride, stigma, and lack of knowledge of what to do or where to go to get help. This generation of men is the first generation of men that operate under a different set of rules to which they were raised in. Men were raised to “be tough” “soldier on”, and “harden up” which has led to a repertoire of unhealthy coping strategies such as suppression, avoidance, isolation, and shame. I myself have struggled with the ups and downs of managing an untreated ADHD condition my whole life which has led me down many dark pathways and my own journey of mental health issues. The biggest barrier to obtaining support I faced was around the impact I thought it would have on my family. If only I had support systems, better role models, and more accurate information on how to access support, I may have made some different choices.
4. What is the difference between mental health and meant fitness?
In my opinion, the term mental health focusses on a clinical conception of a person’s deficits. Mental fitness on the other hand encompasses the preventative practices that everyone can take regardless of how mentally healthy they are in order to enhance wellness. THE BE MORE PROJECT uses health, fitness, and positive psychology concepts to harness mental fitness by strengthening people’s mindfulness, optimism, resilience and engagement with life. Being mentally fit is about prioritising wellness in your everyday life, and practising strategies to improve your health and wellbeing.
5. With R U OK day coming up, what are some tips you could share on how to look out for each other?
R U OK day is such a special day which raises awareness that we’re not in this world alone and that we cannot do life alone. We need people, connection and support systems to survive the ups and down of life. With R U OK day coming up, I encourage people to reach out to their mates, check in on them, and don’t except the typical “I’m all good” answer when you know your mates have been acting strange. Use phone calls, txt, Instagram… try all avenues and don’t give up. Create conversation if there is none and break down the barriers. Be real with your mates and share your own experiences, because hearing about vulnerability will allow a safe place for your mates to be vulnerable themselves. Remember we’re all human and a difficult conversation is worth more than the regret of never having one at all.
Most importantly prepare for your mates to say “no, I’m not okay”. Do not leave that person alone, follow up, and support them to access support services or systems. Don’t be the guy that holds the ball and gets tackled… be the guy that hand balls and passes it on so that people can continue to live their lives. It’s a team approach and we’re in this together. All it takes is one conversation to save a life so get ready to ask “are you okay?”.
The Be More Project is Australia’s first mental fitness movement designed to RECONNECT men with their purpose, RECHARGE their bodies through fitness and health concepts, and RESET their minds using positive psychology strategies..