Not sure how to find your tribe? Here’s Gus Worland’s simple tip

This year marks the fifth anniversary of Gotcha4Life, with founder Gus Worland reflecting on his involvement with the foundation and what lies ahead.

When Gus Worland founded Gotcha4Life in 2017, it was driven by the goal to reduce suicide rates in Australia and one day eliminate them altogether.

Gotcha4Life believes in the positive impact of delivering presentations, workshops and sustainable training programs to build mental fitness and the need to identify a Gotcha4Life Mate.

A Gotcha4Life Mate is someone you know you can speak openly and honestly to when times are tough, so no one worries alone.

Today the not-for-profit foundation continues to make progress, even when confronted with the pandemic.

“When Covid hit, we pivoted really quickly and put all of our programs and presentations on virtual formats, and we found that we were actually able to connect with more people virtually than we anticipated,” Gus says.

“We realised many Australians struggle to discuss mental health face to face.”

And while in-person sessions have since resumed, the virtual sessions are now a permanent fixture of the program.

New personalities join the Gotcha cause

This year also welcomes five new presenters: Australian Olympian Georgie Rowe, former Married at First Sight star Cameron Merchant, Big Sports Breakfast host Jaimee Rogers, Australian Army officer Hugo Toovey and former Dutch soldier and mental health advocate Anton Nootenboom.

“The new presenters are an amazing group of people that I’ve known for a while now and it’s really important when you’re doing this type of work that the people presenting are your type of people,” Gus says.

This past April saw the introduction of the Mateship Miles Roadshow, a new fundraising and awareness initiative in which Gus joined forces with Channel 9’s Today Show host Karl Stefanovic as part of a Gotcha4Life donation drive.

The pair spent a week travelling across Victoria and New South Wales, raising a combined total of $130,000.

How to find the people who’ve Gotcha

Gus knows the topic of mental health can overwhelm people who want to help, but aren’t quite sure where to start.

“What I’ve been telling people is to look after their own village, their own community, tribe, group or team — whatever you want to call it,” Gus says.

“Figure out who those important to you are by writing on a piece of paper a list of people you cannot imagine living without. That is your village.

“If you just focus on looking after them, if you are vulnerable with them, and let them know they can be vulnerable with you — that you don’t want them to worry alone because they’ve got you to speak to — all of a sudden, you’ve got this deeper, better relationship with people that you love.”

Gus hopes if we all do this our relationships will eventually overlap and Australians will collectively have a stronger, more robust support network.

The shocking truth about mental ill-health

“When you tell people the statistics surrounding suicide, it really does shock them,” Gus says.

“Most people know there’s a problem with mental health and mental fitness, but they don’t really understand the true numbers.

“So, when you tell them seven men a day and two women a day are taking their lives and someone attempts to take their life every 28 seconds in Australia, it shocks people because they’re shocking stats.”

Together, Aussies are stronger

Gus already has a clear goal for Gotcha4Life’s 10-year milestone.

“I’ve always said I’ve wanted to get as many facilitators as possible, so in another five years’ time it would be fantastic to see 100 facilitators out there every day, in schools, in corporations, in workplaces, talking about mental health.

“I think it would make a tremendous change to our suicide rates.”

Since its inception, Gotcha4Life has hosted 4000 program sessions connecting 175,000 people while raising more than $10 million through fundraising and partnerships with companies such as Chemist Warehouse.

“I feel very honoured and extremely thankful to be part of it,” Gus says.

Written by Charlotte Brundrett.