Beer has often been referred to as the ultimate social lubricant. Suicide prevention charity R U OK? believes that starting meaningful conversations can be a great way to help people struggling with life.
Trevor Lowder could see potential synergy between the two and, as a result, launched the social enterprise Craft Beer Coopery.
At its heart, it's a beer club subscription service like many others – but it has a key, and crucial, difference. Each pack he sends out to members monthly is designed to encourage people to share a beer with mates, forge and maintain connections, and start conversations.
Inside are nine beers – four pairs of beers to share, and one mystery tinnie for yourself – plus a beer snack, and some notes about the beers and the breweries. Then there are coasters from R U OK? to help turn the conversation.
For Trevor, the desire to launch the business was forged by the dark times he'd experienced following the death of his brother, which led to him being diagnosed with PTSD. Once he'd overcome depression, he wanted to find a way to help raise awareness and came up one that involved his growing love for craft beer.
Thus, Craft Beer Coopery was born – you can read more about it and Trevor's story here. From today, it's also a venture we're partnering with at The Crafty Pint to help spread his message wider still.
In recent years, there's been growing discussion of mental health issues within the local beer world, on occasion sparked by the untimely death of people working in or around the brewing industry, and we see Craft Beer Coopery as a great way to encourage this discussion further.
"It's really timely with the study that's just come out," Trevor says. "Everyone agrees that not enough is happening."
Beyond the Emergency, a world-first study by Turning Point and Monash University in partnership with ambulance services and backed by Beyond Blue and Movember, investigated the scale and nature of ambulance call outs to men presenting with acute mental health issues, self-harm or suicidal behaviour. It found that suicidal behaviour among men in Australia could be as much as three times higher than previously thought.
"I understand there are concerns around mental health and alcohol but if you keep trying the same things you get the same outcome," Trevor says. "I've always said having a beer with a mate is a gateway – it's a people led gateway.
"People lead revolutions in how things change, not governments or people pouring money into things."
As well as promoting Craft Beer Coopery through The Crafty Pint website and newsletter, we've teamed up to offer one of their boxes every month to members of The Crafty Cabal, our beer lovers bonus scheme. Members are encouraged to post photos of themselves enjoying a beer with mates on Instagram (tagged @craftbeercoop and #craftycabal) and, at the end of each month, we'll pick our favourite photo and Trevor will send a Crafting Conversation Crate to the person behind it.
"I think there's a real opportunity for the craft beer industry to kind of formalise what a lot of people are doing," Trevor says. "It's a really giving industry already and some people are doing some really good stuff in various ways.
"What we're trying to do through craft beer generally, rather than any individual company, is to try to create an industry movement where this is a way that people can do some good. What makes the partnership powerful is I'm independent and The Crafty Pint is independent so you can speak from an industry perspective."
This month has also seen Trevor launch his own beer book, Australia's Craftiest Beers – Short Stories And Tall Tales About Some Of The Craftiest Beers That'll You'll Find From Around Australia. It's an e-book you can request via this link inspired by his own adventures through the local beer world.
"It's interesting, he says. "I don't think there's almost any brewery I spoke to that hasn't been touched in some way [by mental health issues]. The owner of one of the breweries whose beer I've got in this month's box is surrounded by mates from the Navy who've had significant issues. I was talking to the people at another brewery where her father took his own life. She said she was happy for me to tell the story because she didn't know how to do it herself."
He adds: "When someone says, 'I'm not doing OK' the chances are someone else is willing to say, 'I'm not either.' Then conversation happens instead of men being stereotypically men.
"At GABS this weekend, you'll be out there smiling and laughing with these guys having a great time and the chances are that, at some point, some people won't be."
And that's when he hopes a simple conversation starter will make all the difference.
You can read more about Craft Beer Coopery here and request a copy of Trevor's book here.
For more information or support surrounding mental health issues, you can contact:
- Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Or visit R U OK?