DROUGHT APPEAL: Malcolm Topp has donated this table and hat stand to the Western Queensland Drought Area to raise funds for men's mental health. The items will be up for sale on eBay. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
DROUGHT APPEAL: Malcolm Topp has donated this table and hat stand to the Western Queensland Drought Area to raise funds for men's mental health. The items will be up for sale on eBay. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Talking mental health

The Bundaberg man has started a project to highlight the issues of mental health and domestic violence against men, with a focus on the droughts in western Queensland.

"I personally went through very bad domestic violence as a victim. My kids were abused as well and I ended up with custody of four children between the ages of two and nine years old. I have a lot of respect for single parents now," he said.

"I had to sell a family property that had been in the family for over 100 years to pay for legal costs.

"I couldn't run a property and raise four little children. It affected me mentally."

Mr Topp, who is currently off work suffering with PTSD, said it was his past experiences with mental health and domestic violence that made him want to take a stand and help others.

He has decided to donate two hand-made slab timber furniture items to the western Queensland Drought Appeal (WQDA) to raise funds specifically for men's mental health in the drought affected areas.

"The drought has a bit of profile, I can assimilate with it because I come from southern western Queensland. I know a lot of the people out there are suffering," he said.

"One day I was sitting at home feeling a bit low and thought, well I can sit here and feel sorry for myself or I can get off my backside and do something to help these guys out.

"If I can use the drought to highlight to the community a bigger issue, then a big goal has been achieved"

The timber table and coat rack were crafted by Mr Topp himself and his son Angus and would be auctioned by the WQDA on eBay next week, with proceeds going towards assisting mental health services.

Administration assistant of the WQDA Vol Norris said each piece was worth thousands of dollars and praised Mr Topp for his efforts in creating an open talking space for mental health.

"I'm very touched by Mal's personal story, his own experiences with mental health issues and his determination to help other men by encouraging them to talk about it and by speaking out himself," he said.

"I think he is a brave person to be prepared to speak openly about his own journey."

Mr Topp said his project would not have been made possible without the help from family, friends and local businesses.

"Ian and Robyn Glass from Bundaberg and District Floor Sanders and Home Timber and Hardware have been amazing," he said.

"Bundaberg Furniture Removals have offered free freight for both items from Bundaberg to any town or city between Cairns and Melbourne."

He said he hoped his project would get more people talking about men's mental health.

"It is a subject that, for a long time, has been ignored and there are a couple of reasons for that. Men are sometimes their own worst enemies but then there is also a stigma attached to it," Mr Topp said.

"There is no shame in getting help.

"I actually think there is a lot of merit in it."

"We need to start communicating with one another and it will cut a lot of the problems out."

The table and coat stand will be up for auction next week with the link available at http://www.wqda.org.au



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