TEN years ago Murtoa resident Aaron Schultz made a life-changing decision to prioritise his mental health.
After he was made redundant from his corporate job, he was sent on what he calls "a spiral of uncertainty".
"I was at a stage in my life where I was suicidal because I was over-stressed with work. I went to my doctor and he told me I had two options - you can take pills or you can exercise. So I chose to exercise," he said.
"From that period I decided I needed to do something to change. I decided to exercise every morning and take up meditation, and that practice has been going for 10 years."
The 47-year-old has now written a book about his own experiences with mental health called A Wink from a Guru: How I Reclaimed My Life.
He said he wanted to write the book to mark 10 years since he started his journey.
"I also wrote it because I believe people are going to need the tools to ground themselves more and more over the next decade, otherwise we're going to have a spike in anxiety and depression," he said.
In the book Mr Schultz talks about his own journey with mental health and the challenges he's faced along the way.
"I speak about my upbringing, growing up in Horsham, and getting into drinking at an early age - which led to problems through stresses with work. I also talk about my own self-discipline with physical exercise," he said.
Former AFL footballer and mental health advocate Paul Roos wrote the book's forward.
"Paul has been doing meditation for 20 years and is a very balanced minded person. We have a lot of similarities in regards to understanding meditation and the benefits it can have in rural communities," Mr Schultz said.
Mr Schultz said men's mental health was an issue close to his heart.
"There's funding that comes in and out with this kind of stuff, but there needs to be a long-term strategy and model that is sustainable to give men preventative measures rather than band-aid fixes," he said.
"Men in particular are very stubborn - and I was one of them. You would get advice from people on how to improve health, but you'd very seldom take it up. I'm passionate about getting men to move away from that resistance to ask for help and want to make changes."
Mr Schultz is a yoga and meditation teacher, and runs his own classes called Yoga Horsham.
He has completed 500 hours of teacher training, and works with people one-on-one as well as three group classes each week.
"I also do a lot of coaching around anxiety to help people manage anxiety. Basically I got through it by creating a routine everyday which helped ground me," he said.
Mr Schultz recently returned to the Wimmera after spending 15 years in Tasmania.
"I decided to move back here a few years ago because I wanted to help the community with this sort of stuff," he said.
"It's about having a more preventative approach rather than rehabilitative.
"At the moment, we have a really rehabilitative model which wants to fix people after the fact - whereas if we can help them manage themselves now, they won't have to present with an issue later.
"Resources are also stretched in regional areas, so I really want to give people the tools to help manage themselves better."
While living in Hobart, he trained meditation techniques with Buddhists monks and then went into studying Transcendental Meditation. He also did fitness work with the Tasmanian cricket team.
He now works with Murtoa Football Netball Club footballers by helping them with mental health training.
He said another massive lifestyle change he undertook was changing his diet.
"I was a junk food king and would eat all the bad stuff. Then I started to explore the healthiest cultures around the world. I visited other countries and looked at where how they lived and how their diets were," he said.
"I had done bad health for a long time, and I wanted to see what good health looked like."
Mr Schultz started Game Changer while in Hobart, which was a campaign to get junk food and alcohol advertising out of sport.
"That went international, so I was talking to media across Australia and even in the UK about it," he said.
"My sons Sam and Jed were young at the time, so I didn't want them to be led down the path of poor health practices," he said.
"When I was younger, it was all about cigarette advertising. Now it's about bad eating, gambling and drinking. Those are three things that really disconnect people and I wanted to do everything I could to try and stamp that out.
"I realised after a while that I wasn't going to be able to do too much to change advertising practices, so I needed to look at other ways I could help people."
He said his next goal was to get more people in regional Australia to practice yoga.
"I've been talking to Yoga Australia about ways we can get it out into regional communities more effectively. This is a prevention model, rather than reactive," he said.
"If we give people the skills to do this stuff, then it will help them with mental health problems. If you can do this everyday."
Mr Shultz said people could find more information about his journey and purchase his book by heading to www.outbackmind.com.au.
His book is also available at Des Lardner's Organic and Nu-Life Health Foods in Horsham, and One Bite at a Time in Ararat.
- If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14
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