Men's Health Week: How a Canterbury man came to terms with his mental illness, and hopes to inspire others to open up

This article discusses suicide and mental health.

Ethan Stanbury had worked himself into the ground, and struggled to see a way out.

But, like many men in his position, he didn't open up about how he was feeling.

Today, the 22-year-old drainlayer is living life to the full and spoke to Newshub about his struggles and how he hopes to inspire more men, and women, to open up.

According to the Men's Health Week website, one in eight New Zealand men will experience serious depression during their lifetime.

"In New Zealand the suicide rate for men is three times that of women," an article published on the website says.

"It can be easier to approach the subject by having a concrete idea of where men are most vulnerable."

Stanbury said his struggles started about two years ago.

"I was going through some pretty tough times at work," he told Newshub. "I was working my body so hard that I ended up having a pretty serious car crash, where it could have gone very bad but fortunately I came out with nothing - I walked from flipping a car three times."

Stanbury said he started to realise he was not in a good place.

"I didn't really go into letting other people know [how I was feeling] and just held it all in.

"At the end it just exploded and turned into me getting into that dark place."

It was a dark place he didn't think he was going to get out of.

"It wasn't so much that I didn't want to talk about it, it was more about just how I dealt with things.

Men's Health Week: How a Canterbury man came to terms with his mental illness, and hopes to inspire others to open up

"The first people that told me they were worried about me were actually my parents and that sort of opened my eyes a wee bit.

"It was sort of an eye-opening feeling when a loved one says 'are you actually alright'?"

When he opened up, it was like the weight of the world off his shoulders.

"People actually messaged me and said 'we're here, it's actually good to hear that you have opened up'.

"It hasn't backfired on me - it's just been more support, and knowing that I can be a bit more open than I used to be."

Had he known those around him would be so supportive, he said he would have opened up sooner.

In an effort to influence others to open up, he made an Instagram page called 'stand by your m8s', to create more awareness about mental illness.

"This page is to show people that it is acceptable to speak out about having a mental illness," the page says.

Stanbury said before he shared his experience, he was often looked at by his friends as "a rock".

"Once I opened up I realised I'd like to see a few more people open up to it, and know that it's okay to talk about it and not be ashamed to talk about.

"That's sort of where the Instagram page came from. When I suggested it to my partner about making it, she was 100 percent behind me on that.

"It was sort of a no-brainer - I wanted to create the awareness that it is okay, and it's not frowned upon to reach out for help."

A public figure had also influenced Stanbury to open up. He said Mike King's 'Gumboot Friday' was inspiring.

'Gumboot Friday' was started by King, teaming up with KiwiBank, who donated $1 for every Kiwi who used the 'I AM HOPE' frame on their Facebook profile pictures.

The cause raised almost $1 million.

"To see the reaction it got from people, because you would see it coming up on social media - social media's such a big thing in today's world," Stanbury said.

"I got along with that one and supported it, and donated a bit.

"He's [King] quite a good influence to me."

Men's Health Week: How a Canterbury man came to terms with his mental illness, and hopes to inspire others to open up

While Stanbury believes a lot of people are still in their shell, he thinks the mental health awareness cause will continue to grow.

"Some people I've talked to through that Instagram page I would have never thought I would, but it's just one of those things where you see a picture and sometimes it's not so clear.

"The more we can show that it is a good thing to be open about it, the better."

Where to find help and support:

Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633

Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)

Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737

What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)

Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email or online chat

Samaritans - 0800 726 666

Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Men's Health Week (June 10 - 16) aims to bring awareness to health issues that affect men disproportionately.