Boys Do Cry: Why men must challenge stereotypes and open up

It’s time to ditch the outdated idea that men must put on a brave front. Here’s how a new campaign will make a difference to men’s mental health and why its song sounds so familiar.

If you grew up in the ’80s – or even if you didn’t – The Cure’s iconic Boys Don’t Cry song is probably linked to a few memories.

Now – in what is anticipated to be one of the most significant men’s mental health campaigns in Australia – there are hopes a slightly tweaked version of the song will lead to not just new memories, but meaningful change.

According to Beyond Blue, every day nine Australians take their own lives and seven of those are men.

There has never been a better time to encourage men to open up.

Changing Boys Don’t Cry to Boys Do Cry, the aim is to help create a significant shift in the narrative when it comes to societal views that men should always be stoic.

Gotcha4Life mental fitness foundation founder and part of the team behind the Boys Do Cry campaign, Gus Worland says music can take you somewhere, give you hope and bring back memories.

“So turning such an iconic song into something for good, with such a simple yet significant change, is really powerful,” the host of ABC TV series Man Up says.

Why we need change around men’s mental health

Having established Gotcha4Life in 2017, Gus is on a mission to change the stereotype that many Australian men feel obligated to live up to, and sees the Boys Do Cry campaign as another tool to help make that happen.

“Trying to live up to this blokey stereotype of she’ll be right, and man up and shut up has got us to where we are today,” Gus says.

“As men, we typically spend way too much time with this mask on, making out that everything is fantastic when it’s simply not. And it’s just not working.”

Aussie men struggle to ask for help

Statistics prove it.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for men aged 15-49, while the number of men who take their own lives each year is nearly double the national road toll.

Despite these numbers, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2019 the Queensland Suicide Register found less than half of men (44.4 per cent) who die by suicide have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

While nearly one in five men will experience a mental health issue such as anxiety or depression in a given year, most find it hard to ask for help when they’re down.

“It’s up to us to draw a line in the sand and say we’re not living up to that set of rules anymore,” Gus says.

“The world has changed and we need a new way of doing things.

“That doesn’t mean bursting into tears every five minutes or having a deep and meaningful conversation every time you talk.

“But it does mean having someone in your life that you can talk to about the really important things.”

Indigenous suicide rates among highest worldwide

Recording artist and MC Dallas Woods is passionate about this cause, too.

A Noongar man from the East Kimberley, he’s part of the 30-men choir who recorded the Boys Do Cry song for the campaign.

“Where I’m from, men are raised as warriors and to be the man of the house,” he says.

“And talking about emotions is sort of taboo.

“Suicide rates amongst Indigenous people in the Kimberley region are among the worst in the world.

“I lost someone very close to me when I was young and ever since then I’ve been trying to understand why that would happen, and to bridge the gap between Western knowledge and Indigenous knowledge.

“Being able to take a song that’s so well known, that already had the message and that just by switching one word could turn into something that gets straight to the core, breaking down stigma and normalising men’s weaknesses and mental health issues is, like Gus says, really powerful.”

Wide support for men’s mental health

The Boys Do Cry choir is made up of average blokes from all walks of life.

“That was a conscious decision,” Gus says.

“We’re talking to everyday Australians, so the choir is made up of exactly that, from young men to big burly blokes in their 60s, 70s and 80s.

“As part of the project we also made a bit of a documentary around the making of the campaign song and the video, and that was just magic because in filming it, I could see these relationships building among men who didn’t know each other at the start of the day.”

It’s something Dallas noticed, too.

“There was something very special about that day,” he says.

“It was a bunch of men coming together to help each other, and that’s something I haven’t really been a part of often.”

As for what the team hopes the song can achieve, Gus says it’s pretty simple.

“I hope that people will play the song and watch the video, and talk about why the song is the way it is,” he says.

“And I love the fact that we’ve got the University of Melbourne on board to assess how the song influences men’s likelihood of reaching out for help if they’re facing tough times.

“If it initiates proper discussions that will be really cool.”

For more information about the campaign, visit

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 Written by Karen Fittall.