Skip to content

Taking care of your mental health with Joel Pilgrim

Surfer, Joe Pilgram holding his surfboard at the beach
Photo: Flashpoint Labs
Surfer, Joe Pilgram holding his surfboard at the beach
Photo: Flashpoint Labs

For Men's Health Week, we spoke to Joel Pilgrim Co-founder and CEO of our charitable partner Waves of Wellness Foundation (WOW) about the importance of taking care of your mental health, the barriers men face when seeking support and how he looks after his own mental health and wellbeing every day.

Q&A with Joel Pilgrim

1) What are the common barriers men face when seeking mental health support?

First things first, too often men are concerned about appearing weak, sticking to the stereotype and not opening up about how they're traveling. It's a common misconception that seeking support for your mental health as a guy is a weakness.

I would challenge that however, as men speaking up, opening up, and not being afraid to say they need some help, is a massive strength, and takes courage. Men often feel they are alone, and no one will understand what they're going through. When in fact once they open up, they realise there's stacks of guys around them feeling something similar.

Another big barrier is men often don't know where to find support, but there’s so many ways they can find it!

2) If someone is struggling, what are some of the ways they can seek help?

If you’re struggling, there are many ways you can seek support …

  • Reach out to a friend or family member: someone you trust

  • Chat to your GP: they're a great place to start and are the gateway to accessing some really good support pathways

  • Check out a range of mental health resources online: Movember Foundation is a great place for men

  • Call a helpline (information provided below)

  • If you're really concerned, you can call 000.

3) What are some of the strategies or everyday rituals you use to look after your own mental health that could also be helpful to others?

I make sure I do something physical every day, even if it's going for a walk. Getting outside is key, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, we might not otherwise leave the house all day.

Surfing is my go-to daily ritual, some would argue it’s even my religion! I wake at sunrise every morning and get my surf in to start the day the best way possible.

If not surfing, then I recommend going for a walk or run, or just do what makes your heart sing. Meditation and mindfulness have also been really good at helping me to stay present in the morning.

A group of surfers in the ocean at dusk
Photo: At Dusk Photography

4) Should we all be treating our mental health much the same as our physical health?

Absolutely! You can't have one without the other, they work in unison to create our overall wellbeing. We go to the gym to pump weights for our body, so why don't we pump mental weights for our brain?

That's our vision at Waves of Wellness Foundation, to have a world where our physical and mental health are both treated truly equally. Working out and staying healthy is a good way to improve your mood too.

5) How is Waves of Wellness Foundation helping fight the stigma that often comes with mental health and seeking help, in particular for men?

We often call our approach 'health by stealth'. Through our Movember men's wellness programs in particular, we're drawing men in with the attraction of surfing, and having some incredible conversations about wellbeing in the process.
We normalise mental health challenges by speaking openly about it, sharing lived experience and personal stories.

We also have a bunch of fun – proving that talking about this important subject doesn't have to be all doom and gloom.

6) If you're worried about a loved one or someone close to you, what are some ways you can help?

  • Listen

  • You don't have to have all the answers

  • Encourage them to seek help

  • Support them in booking appointments

  • Check in with them regularly

  • Don't force them to talk, they will open up when they're ready

To find out more about Waves of Wellness and their surf therapy programs, visit their website at

A group of surfers sitting in a circle at the beach clapping
Photo: At Dusk Photography

If you or someone you know is struggling, call: