I met Mitch on a personal expedition to escape my little home town for a while. Life as an almost 18-year-old was throwing me curve balls, and we all know I’m a shocker at catching.
During my short time in Hobart, I
was honored to be picked up and take part in a photo shoot for Speak Up Stay ChatTY. The not-for-profit suicide awareness organisation was releasing new merchandise (available HERE) and needed some images for the launch. After not feeling myself for so long, I had an average attitude about participating in front of the camera again. Once I arrived at the studio, boy, did that attitude take a spin.
Since the unexpected shoot, I am grateful to have been given the opportunity by Mitch and his team to be involved in such an inspiring project – the work Mitch has created through Speak Up Stay ChatTY is incredible.
Last year, he was awarded the title of Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year, and continues to exponentially achieve his goals and raising suicide prevention awareness.
Congratulations, Mitch, and thank you for sharing your story:
Ellie: First of all, a huge congratulations is in order! Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year is an incredible title to be presented with. How are you feeling about the success of SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY after such recognition?
Mitch: Thanks so much Ellie, I am very excited to have been announced the winner for Tasmania. From all accounts it is going to be a big year of opportunities for the charity, so that is very exciting. Being recognised for this award is amazing obviously on a personal level, but I am going to do everything I can in my power to really capitalise on it and hopefully get as much national exposure for the charity as I can. The aim is to take this national, so I hope this is a step in the right direction for this to become a reality.
ES: What were your plans before SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY became your full-time project?
MM: Before I started SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY I was a glazier by trade. I had served a four year apprenticeship and had been glazing for 7 and a half years. I guess I was looking to eventually start my own business as a glazier and try and grow that as much as possible. To start this charity was something incredibly new to me, something that I was really out of my depth in. it all started as a simple car bumper sticker as a tribute to my 18 year old brother Ty who suicided, but from then on just continued to grow and grow. It wasn’t long until it was a registered not-for profit charity and I was travelling the state of Tasmania doing presentations and sharing my story of loss.
ES: Your social media following is growing bigger day-by-day. Do you think your online image plays a role in your organisation’s success?
MM: Social media has been one of the biggest keys to success for our organisation. Growing a following on Facebook in particular has been so big for the growth of the charity. The key message behind our whole charity is for the logo to be a reminder about mental health. We want people to see our logo and let that be their daily reminder to check in on your own mental health daily, but to keep an eye on the mental health of others around you also. So having a presence and dong daily posts on social media about what we have been up to, is certainly the way that I can achieve it being in people’s faces on a daily basis.
ES: One of your main jobs is visiting schools, sharing your story and raising awareness of suicide prevention. You share a very personal tale with groups of people you have never met – do you think talking so much about your own experience has helped you?
MM: Yes I share my lived experience and talk about the devastation that suicide has caused our family since my brother left us. Initially it was daunting speaking to people I have never met, public speaking was something I had never done before. But after seeing and hearing the positives that have come from my presentations, it is something that I absolutely not only love doing, but know that it is so needed in our society. Doing these presentations has certainly helped me in dealing with the grief. Talking about him on a daily basis is obviously hard, but I am also incredibly lucky to carry his legacy and to tell people how much of an awesome person he was. That is something I hold really close to my heart.
ES: Tell me your favourite experience with SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY – the first great memory that comes to mind!
MM: The first great memory that comes to mind was the 2014 Tour de Tig. Stay ChatTY had become quite prominent in the first year of its campaign down here in the south of Tasmania. But I wanted to spread it up to the North as much as I could. I managed to talk a group of my best mates into running from Burnie to Hobart (360 kilometres) over 4 days. My brothers nick name was Tig hence the name of it. We managed to raise over $20,000 and it really was the birth of SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY with lots of media and people getting behind it along the way. Not only was it great for Tasmania to have so much awareness, but on a personal level, the run was a fantastic way to pay tribute to my brother, and that was really special for me and my family.
The annual suicide prevention gala ball held by Mitch and his team will be held in Hobart on Saturday, 5th of August. The Winter Wonderland Ball is hosting special guests, including The Bachelorette‘s Georgia Love and Co-founder of Livin, Sam Webb. You can enquire and book tickets at www.speakupstaychatty.com.au.