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Mental healthSocial issues

Virtual Pub encourages male mental health discussion

A secret men-only Facebook group has become a safe space for regional Australian men to share their struggles.

Before it became the sanctuary for men that it is today, the secret Facebook group was filled with racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments.

The group, called The Virtual Pub, was started by a group of men from the New South Wales Hunter Valley and has grown to house over 51,000 members in less than 12 months.

The Virtual Pub first gained nation-wide popularity when a scandal went viral on social media in June 2017 of a group member posting fat shaming revenge porn in the group.

After the incident administrators took action to create a safe community by building a culture of camaraderie and encouragement.

Drew Shearman is a member who shared with the group about his first-hand experience learning about mental illness.

“It’s a really good platform for people to connect [who are] having issues…” Mr Shearman said.

Group administrators are responsible for adding members to the group and the posts that are published.

Page administrator Brett Williams said there was a steep learning curve when it came to moderating activity within the group.

“There has been a change in culture… we pay careful attention to the content within the group and act quickly when questionable matters arise,” Mr Williams said.

“The current administration team and the moderators below the steer The Virtual Pub towards building each other up and working together to give back and support others… inside of our niche Facebook community and outside.

“We have already had one fundraising day that raised over $22,000 for The Black Dog Foundation with another in the works.”

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