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Former AFP leader launches men’s mental health counselling program

COMPANY BLOG: When Gary Fahey became a household name as a competitor on Channel 7’s SAS Australia in 2021, he was already used to being in the limelight. Fahey was part of the Australian Federal Police for 18 years and his illustrious career in the police force saw his career grow from strength to strength: from running and organising national and international operations, to leading the Australian Prime Minister’s Protection Team, to managing the Office of Commissioner as the Executive Officer.

Fahey, however, suffered a public fall from grace, after gambling away $2 million and charging $45,000 to his corporate credit card. The root cause of it all? Stress and a major depressive disorder. Fahey has now turned his life around with a Master of Brain and Mind Sciences and a new consultancy company, Strong Men’d, focused on helping men in high pressure careers understand the causes and effects of their stress loads, and channel them towards building success in their personal lives and careers.

Key initiatives by Strong Men’d

Launching in February, Strong Men’d offers two key initiatives. Firstly, an online course and group coaching model that will help executives access the systems and strategies that Fahey has developed and implemented.

“The purpose of this course is to help men understand what they’re experiencing and how to unlock the mechanics of the process of moving forward,” Strong Men’d, founder and CEO, Gary Fahey said.

“The second initiative revolves around crisis intervention for high performance, high pressure and/or high profile individuals who have either experienced, or are on the cusp of a serious life changing issue or dramatic fall from grace.

“This initiative is here for them to understand the root cause of their issues, what’s at risk, and through a ‘tactical troubleshooter’, stop offending behaviours as quickly as possible. Both programs are designed with deep scale strategies to provide greater confidence in long term lasting success.”

From bodyguard to broken

“The success of my career was a journey in itself. I spent 18 years with the Australian Federal Police, the last ten years of which could easily count as the most successful part of my career,” Fahey added.

“But the problem was it was only ever outwardly successful; because on the inside, I was silently battling a major depressive disorder and gambling addiction that cost me $2 million, my career, my reputation, and almost my life.

“Ultimately, I was sentenced to an eight-month community corrections order and was ordered to repay the money that I had spent illegally. I made some really poor choices, and I lost many relationships and friendships alongside the financial ruin.

“Often, men who have chased success, status and money, as prescribed by social and cultural conditioning, are beginning to realise (sometimes subconsciously), that this has come at the cost of their relationships, their physical and mental health, and their identity and purpose.

“Thomas Merton has a quote: ‘People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall’.  Often this realisation manifests itself in activities such as alcohol and drug abuse, gambling, infidelity, or risky and rash business decisions.

“In order to turn my life around, I had the support of mental health specialists and worked with experts from all around the world. I completed a Master of Brain and Mind Sciences at Sydney University, and have since then, also become recognised as an Ambassador for mental health, and have written a best-selling book on Amazon called ‘Externally Bulletproof, Internally Brittle: How to Turn Your Struggle into Your Success’. It’s been a long road, but I’ve rebuilt myself to be comfortable enough to share my story of hope and helping others.”

Helping men manage mental health

“Due to work stress leading to the poor choices I made, and the subsequent recovery and rebuild phase of my life, I have a deep desire to become a proactive voice in changing the way men manage mental health by acknowledging both the unique circumstances that influence mental health and performance in men, as well as the unique way that men attack problems in developing successful practices,” Fahey added.

“I believe in tapping into systems and processes already established in many successful men who are struggling and using their own strengths to move towards success (their own language, style, habits, communication and neuroscience), rather than continue simply following traditional psychological practices alone.

“I have overcome my own significant battles with mental health and the very public ramifications that went along with that and I want to help other men and prevent them from going down the same path that I did.

“Strong Men’d is the next step for me, where I hope to help change the way men manage mental health, and to use that desire to improve performance, success and happiness.

“I want other men to know you can turn your life around, you can change your future, you can recover, you can redeem yourself, you can stop the path ahead and point it in a new direction – with the right help.”

About Strong Men’d

Founded by Gary Fahey and based in Brisbane, Strong Men’d targets men in high profile, high pressure and high stress careers who need support navigating the mental health issues that may arise as a result of the pressure and stress of their careers. Through coaching and counselling (and if necessary, crisis intervention), Fahey helps clients through programs aimed at helping men understand what their experiencing and how to begin the process of moving forward by implementing strategies for success and accountability.

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