South West resident does push up challenge for headspace Bunbury

Mr Ingham prides himself on making at least one person a day smile.
Mr Ingham prides himself on making at least one person a day smile.

"NEVER judge someone by the shoes they wear, but by where those shoes have been."

Donnybrook resident Mat Ingham is challenging the judgement on youth mental health issues being labeled as 'typical teenager' behaviour.

From difficult beginnings, Mr Ingham knows all too well how mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression can cause a range of external issues, especially in teenagers.

"Growing up, my mum had Bipolar Disorder but it wasn't diagnosed until later on in life. My childhood was a bit rough and the stresses were always high. We never talked about our feelings," Mr Ingham said.

"I started to play up from a very young age. I ran away, I couch surfed, I was homeless, I ate out of bins. And then I started using drugs as a way to cope with my anxiety and depression, because it felt like the only way I could be myself."

"But it was all put down to just being a 'moody' teenager."

I'm just finding my feet and I still push through my anxiety. If I need help, I seek help. But I'm 32-years-old and old enough to notice my triggers. Kids don't.

Mat Ingham

Despite the obstacles thrown at him, Mr Ingham is an advocate for youth mental health in the South West and on June 1 began 'The Push-Up Challenge'.

"The challenge is to complete 3,318 push-ups in total, which represents the number of people who died by suicide in Australia in 2019."

A challenge to raise awareness on youth mental health, it was created by the Push for Better Foundation.

Held on an annual basis from June 1 to 25, The Push-Up Challenge allows participants to learn about mental and physical health whilst fundraising for a variety of charities including Lifelife and Headspace.

To make the challenge more interactive, Mr Ingham filmed each day of his push-ups at different locations across both Donnybrook and Bunbury.

Viewers will notice the Bunbury Tower and other iconic locations throughout the towns, including notable artworks and street graffiti.

"I thought to myself, how will people know that I've actually done the push ups? So I started filming them. I wanted people to get involved and have a laugh. I call it my jar of smiles, I pride myself on getting at least one smile a day from someone I don't know," Mr Ingham said.

He chose Headspace to donate his money to, which is an Australian, not-for-profit organisation for youth mental health formed in 2006.

Mat Ingham has completed almost 3000 push ups to help raise money for Headspace, Bunbury.

Mat Ingham has completed almost 3000 push ups to help raise money for Headspace, Bunbury.

Mr Ingham said he was passionate about raising money for headspace as he personally found them the most helpful when he was struggling with his mental health as a teenager.

"I'm just finding my feet and I still push through my anxiety. If I need help, I seek help. But I'm 32-years-old and old enough to notice my triggers. Kids don't."

"A lot of people see kids going through moody stages and think they're just being teenagers, but before they know it the kids are on drugs. No one goes up to them and says are you okay, or anything like that."

Mr Ingham moved to Donnybrook four years ago with his fiancée Samantha Wright and their two children.

Mr Ingham said he quickly saw how youth mental health wasn't spoken about, especially in smaller towns.

"There just seems to be a lack of resources and not much in place to help these kids. So now me and a few other people in town are trying to start something. A safe hub for people to go to. This is the first step in trying to get people to recognise the importance of good mental health in everyone and to get behind it."

Mr Ingham is now working with Chelsea Coole and Danyelle Blythe from Nourish Nutrition Studio in Donnybrook, to create a 'happy place' for teenagers to visit.

"We're just trying to get the community involved with each other and we hope we can extend that out to Bunbury because a lot of our kids go to high schools there. It's still in the early days, but our goal is to create a safe space to get people talking and to offer support."

To date, Mr Ingham has completed 2,831 push ups and has exceeded his goal of $1,000.

With The Push-Up Challenge finishing on June 25, supporters can donate to Mr Ingham via www.thepushupchallenge.com.au/pushuperer/196329.

"I've been through and done so much, so the least I can do is give back and let people know that what they're going through is not wierd or wrong. I've done it, I've been there and I live a busy life but I always have time to chat," Mr Ingham said.