{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Economic research & forecasting Economics Housing outlook Tailored market research Economic reports & data Inspiring Australia's building professionals Business & digital Products & innovation Projects HOUSING Online The only place to get your industry news Media releases Member alerts Submissions See all
Business support
Business support $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Become an apprentice host Hire an apprentice Why host a HIA apprentice? Apprentice partner program Builder & manufacturer program Industry insurance Construction legal expenses insurance Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies & tool insurance Planning & safety solutions Building & planning services How can safety solutions help you? Independent site inspections Solutions for your business Contracts Online HIA Tradepass HIA SafeScan Advertise jobs Trusted support & guidance Contracts & compliance support Professional services Industrial relations Member savings Toyota vehicles Fuel savings Handy pay See all
Resources & advice
Resources & advice $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Building it right Building codes Australian standards Getting it right on site See all Building materials & products Concrete, bricks & walls Getting products approved Use the right products for the job See all Managing your business Dealing with contracts Handling disputes Managing your employees See all Managing your safety Falls from heights Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects COVID-19 Getting approval to build Sustainable homes See all
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer Frequently asked questions Study with us Find a course to suit you Qualification courses Learning on demand A job in the industry Get your builder's licence Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Find jobs
HIA community
HIA community $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Join HIA Sign me up How do I become a member? What's in it for me? Mates rates Get involved Become an award judge Join a committee Partner with us Our initiatives GreenSmart Kitchen, bathroom and design hub Get to know us Our members Our people Our partners Support for you Charitable Foundation Mental health program
Awards & events
Awards & events $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Awards program People & Business Awards GreenSmart Australian Housing Awards Awards winners Regional Award winners Australian Housing Award winners 2023 Australian Home of the Year Enter online Industry events Events in the next month Economic outlook National Conference Events calendar
HIA products
HIA products $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Shop @ HIA Digital Australian Standards Contracts Online Shipping & delivery Purchasing T&Cs See all Products Purchase NCC 2022 Building codes & standards Economic reports Hard copy contracts Guides & manuals
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Change location
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.successMessage}} {{region}} Change location

$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Disarming depression

{{ tag.label }} {{ tag.label }} $vuetify.icons.faTimes
When Jake's father died in a workplace accident, the tragic loss marked the beginning of his descent into despondency and depression. Jake shares his experience and inspirational journey to recovery.

Liz Barrett

Senior Content Producer

Speaking with Jake Russell, you're immediately put at ease by his relaxed and jovial nature; the 30 year old is outgoing, sporty and good with his hands – a qualified cabinet maker by trade. His general demeanor makes it hard to imagine that he has battled with mental health issues for most of his life.

This first impression may be the reason so many young men, just like Jake, slip through the cracks - their well-worn exterior covering underlying stress and emotional anguish. But it is this very stigma surrounding speaking up about mental health issues that Jake is keen to dismantle by sharing his story.

'There is a dangerous culture in young men where we are encouraged to put on a brave face, toughen up and soldier on. But on the contrary, it takes a lot of strength and courage to ask for help,' Jake says, thoughtfully.

When he was only six years old, Jake's parents separated, leaving him and his two older brothers confused and upset. Despite his parents' lack of animosity, Jake's dad became distant and removed from much involvement in his sons' lives.

'He wasn't really present,' Jake recollects. 'He would visit infrequently. He was engaged to another woman at the time and was really starting to focus on his new family. It felt like we were being left behind.'

On the brink of starting high school, Jake experienced the unimaginable – his father was killed in a collision while driving rigs back to Melbourne from South Australia. A former tradie, Jake's dad had taken to driving trucks. Sadly, in the early hours of the morning, his truck was clipped, causing it to veer off the road – killing him on impact.

'When I heard, it was impossible to make sense of it. My mum was pretty distraught; she knew how it would affect us,' he explains, 'My brothers were older, 14 and almost 17 respectively at the time, so they were in shock more than emotional. I guess they thought they would need to fill the void and take on more responsibility.'

This tragedy was a turning point for Jake, who was already feeling conflicted and angry – blaming himself for the circumstances surrounding his parents' separation, the addition of his father's death plunged him into a spiral of despair. ‘I was always so afraid, and I hid behind my anger - a subconscious response to trying to regain a sense of control. The irony being that when you give into anger you relinquish what little control you have left.’

It was never revealed who was responsible for his father's death, so without this closure, Jake created his own narrative. 'Shortly after Dad passed away, I somehow decided it was all my fault,' he confides. 'If I hadn't been around, things wouldn't have turned out this way. Which in retrospect is nonsense, but it became a foundational belief at the time - a kind of guilt. Then the self-loathing followed.'

Plagued by the fear of losing more people, Jake began shutting himself off from others. Jake felt that if he could reduce how much he cared about people and them about him, he could mitigate any pain it would inflict on them if something were to happen to him. ‘I didn't want them to feel like I did when dad died.’

While on the surface Jake was a curious and energetic adolescent, beneath he was hiding this inner conflict. He felt alone, but his need to separate himself from those around him caused him to lash out in anger. 'There was so much I couldn't understand. I felt like I couldn't ask questions and like I had no one to ask anyway. I remember feeling angry and so alone. It was a pretty negative feedback loop.'

Then in his early teens, Jake's thoughts turned sinister. 'Every single time I attempted something, it just felt like an incredible amount of effort for very little payoff,’ Jake continues. 'It was insidious in nature, but I started thinking, I just can't do this anymore. If I'm going to be around for another 60–70 years, and if this is all I've got to look forward to, then why bother? I don't want to be here.'

After attempting to take his life, he began the painful journey to address the harmful emotions he was harbouring. After several poignant events, Jake spoke with both his mother and brother, deciding that therapy was worth trying.

'I wasn't sure about therapy before going, but I knew how I was feeling wasn't ok, and I really wanted to get help.' Jake admits, 'I wasn't under any illusion that guided therapy would be a cure but felt it was a step in the right direction.'

Jake began the slow process of dissecting his thoughts and feelings – trying to piece it together and make sense of it all. ‘I had to be prepared to get really honest because if you're not, then it's not going to work.’

Aside from his ill-conceived idea that he was at fault for the turn of events leading up to his parents' separation and father's death, he had also manifested a distorted image of a father figure – an oppressive persona that harshly judged Jake's achievements and perceived failures.

'I didn't really have a reference point for what a father figure should be – so I created one, and it was pretty much a tyrant,’ Jake describes. ‘It was a case of if you do the wrong thing, you were stupid, you were an idiot, and you weren't worthwhile. Whereas if I did achieve something, there was no acknowledgment or praise – just an assumption that that was what you were meant to do.'

During the weekly therapy sessions, Jake realised that the constant barrage of negative inner dialogue was a psychological battle that he could never win. ‘It took me a long time to realise that what happened to dad was an accident and I wasn’t to blame.’

Over the next two and a half years, Jake began to develop the skills to carry his mental load and the tools to move beyond his anguish. His experience has left him with a profound feeling of responsibility to normalise talking about feelings and seeking help. 'I see it like this - you go to the doctor when you have a physical sickness, why wouldn't you go to a therapist for a mental illness? – at least that's my approach to it.'

There is no one size fits all approach to mental health and it isn’t always a tragic event that leads to depression or anxiety. It’s vital that we don’t measure one person's suffering against someone else's. ‘A person can drown in 2ft of water or 20ft – they still drown.’

Jake has found journaling and keeping active has been enormously beneficial, as has the addition of a four-legged friend. 'To start with, I would encourage anyone to speak up, then find positive avenues to get those feelings out. Speak to an objective third party - just to start the conversation.

'As an employer or friend - when someone entrusts you with their feelings, the reaction and first response should be compassion,' Jake tells. 'Compassion and empathy are so undervalued, but when it comes to mental health, they assist so much with acceptance and recovery.'

For mental health information, advice and support, visit Beyond Blue.

You might also like:

Better living Inspiration Mental health Wellbeing
Redefining life
Beyond Blue speaker and ex corporate athlete Peta Sitcheff has gone from being burnt-out to firing on all cylinders.
Feb 24
5 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Wellbeing Inspiration Mental health Better living
Feel better, or be better
When work stress started to turn into something more sinister, silence and denial nearly cost Tim Lacey everything. Today, he’s passionate about helping other men to speak up and get help when needed.
Feb 24
6 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Wellbeing Inspiration Mental health Better living
In the shadow of the Impossible Man
For Beyond Blue ambassador Craig Killian, a lifetime of trying to conform to unrealistic male standards eventually resulted in a mental health crisis. He chats to Housing about living with the ‘Impossible Man’ and learning how to ...
Feb 24
4 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
President's report
TAS President's report
After completing my first year as Tasmanian President, it is time to reflect on the achievements and issues of the past 12 months and align ourselves with the opportunities and challenges for the year ahead.
Feb 24
3 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
President's report
NQ President's report
Happy New Year, welcome back from the team at HIA.
Feb 24
3 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Risk management Scaffolding Business systems Design
Eliminating risks
It’s essential for businesses and employees to prioritise health and safety at work. The good news is there are many ways to improve safety onsite. Meet two successful companies, SSS Roof Scaffolding and Cosentino, who explain how...
Jan 24
3 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Kitchens Design Awards Projects
Alfresco and aquarium combo
Western Australia’s Carmen Hansberry is no novice when it comes to interior design. This Senior Creative Designer and business founder showcased her residential talents, winning the HIA 2023 Western Australian Residential Interior...
Jan 24
3 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards President's report
QLD President's report
Celebrating the HIA-CSR QLD Housing Awards is a great time to reflect on our industry’s successes in 2023 and the positives ahead in 2024.
Dec 23
2 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Inspiration Residential
From tiny acorns
This extension project in inner Melbourne proves that good things really do come in small packages.
Dec 23
4 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
President's report National Construction Code (NCC) Supply chain
ACT & Southern NSW President's report
As the building industry grapples with supply chain constraints, rising interest rates, and governmental housing initiatives falling short, addressing land costs is the key to sustainable growth.
Dec 23
1 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) Building Code of Australia (BCA) Compliance National Construction Code (NCC)
Innovation in housing
A performance-based building code provides greater flexibility and enables innovation in how and with what we build. But are the benefits being fully realised? Is flexibility and certainty achievable?
Dec 23
6 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Environment Sustainability Walls
Choose Siniat for sustainability, quality and durability
Renowned for its pioneering work in the field of sustainability, Siniat supplies an array of quality wall and ceiling solutions to the residential sector.
Dec 23
4 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight