"I have surfed for 33 years. Surfing makes me a better person." Said Dan Binskin of the Palm Beach Boardriders. "I love the freedom of it. It's a great way to clear your head and is the best natural high I have ever experienced."
It's no secret that surfing holds benefits for both physical and mental health with many surfers using the activity as an outlet and as a way to catch up with others in the surfing community.
"Surfing has made me travel, given me an amazing group of friends and kept me healthy and reasonably fit for an old bloke!" Said Dan.
Surfing was also the way Dan met his good friend Nathan Jager and is the reason behind the upcoming 7th annual Eager Beaver Surf Contest on the Gold Coast next month.
"Nathan suffered from bi-polar and his friends weren't aware of this." Said Dan. "Due to the stigma associated with mental illness, Nathan didn't speak up to his friends. I never want any of my friends or family to suffer in silence with bi-polar or any other mental illness."
Nathan took his own life in 2013 and every year in February the Eager Beaver Surf Contest is held in his memory and used as a platform to spread awareness to the local community about the importance of speaking up about mental illness.
"I saw LIVIN on Instagram and liked the modern approach in getting people to talk about their mental health, the 'It Ain't Weak to Speak' slogan really made sense to me." Dan explained. "I thought tying it in with the idea of a surf contest was a fun way to attack a serious problem in my local surf community."
The contest has been growing each year and become a known event on the Gold Coast surfing calendar with many locals also heading down to Palm Beach to watch some of the best in the local surfing community including WSL World Champion, Joel 'Parko' Parkinson who has been a regular participant in the event.
With stigma surrounding mental illness being the main contributor to people not reaching out for help, events such as the Eager Beaver Surf Contest are a positive and powerful reminder how influential bringing the local community together can be in spreading awareness that there is no shame in speaking up and asking for help.
"Your harshest critic is often you and it's important to remember that no one sees mental illness as anything to be ashamed of." Says Dan.
"There is a lot of help out there and a lot of it is free. Don't feel you have to take it on alone. Always ask for help and accept help if there are 'A few roos loose in the top paddock' as a lot of us have been there."
For details on the upcoming Eager Beaver Surf Contest, check out our Upcoming Events Page and show your support to these legends who are all surfing it up for LIVIN and mental health awareness.