Eli Ihaia, Ben Cudmore and Luke Anderson create new mental health group, Self Seen

ON THE ROAD TO SELF IMPROVEMENT: Eli Ihaia (right) and Ben Cudmore at Westport Park in Port Macquarie.
ON THE ROAD TO SELF IMPROVEMENT: Eli Ihaia (right) and Ben Cudmore at Westport Park in Port Macquarie.

It all started with three blokes wrestling with their own personal demons.

Eli Ihaia, Ben Cudmore and Luke Anderson admit they were all suffering on the inside and some were trying to resolve those issues with drugs or alcohol.

The trio have talked to each other and decided to create their own non-profit men's and women's mental health group in Port Macquarie-Hastings called Self Seen (Self Empowered Love Framework Secures Every Essential Need).

The group conducts community walks and workshops to help those suffering in silence.

Group co-founder and president Eli Ihaia said men can communicate to discuss patterns and behaviour of anger, addiction, depression, anxiety, fear, and generational trauma.

"I was going through a bit of a hard time and I had the idea that if I could talk to someone with the same experience then I wouldn't have suffered so much," he said.

"I've struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, depression and anxiety for a long time. It's just about taken my life each year for 15 years.

"There was an attempt on my life pretty much each year and I was just tired of turning up to that same pattern of thinking and doing things.

"I wanted to create a collective of men with lived experience, to relate to men with these mental health issues. If we could teach them with tools that I didn't have and get them through their darkest times."

Mr Ihaia said he has had his own struggles with drugs and self-loathing but is determined to find his higher self.

"The most important tools I'd say are meditation, stepping into self-love and building integrity," he said.

"Through integrity I realised I was able to accomplish things that I said I'd do and that helped me discover my own self worth."

Group co-founder and leader Ben Cudmore said he hit rock bottom and attempted suicide after the failure of his business and the impacts of an addiction to drugs.

"My journey started with the depression of losing my business to bankruptcy in 2017. I'd run that business for 10 years and it came crashing down on top of me," he said.

"It was a slow moving train wreck as I made mistake after mistake and I hated myself for that. I was addicted to drugs heavily as well and I couldn't cope anymore.

"I had an attempt on my life in 2018 and from not doing that I turned my life around. It stemmed from me not dealing with my issues from the past."

The group discusses how you show up in your family life and in your life in general, Mr Cudmore said.

"I started talking about my issues, I changed jobs, changed the group I was hanging out with, the way I was working and started being honest. I tried anything that could self help," he said.

"I learnt that vulnerability is the key. By being open and transparent I was able to talk about and understand my issues."

Members of the public can attend a men's workshop each month to discuss mental health issues. For more information visit Self Seen on Facebook.

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