Rob Prugue, chief executive officer of Lazard Asset Management, Asia Pacific, says that having an outdated basic understanding around mental health is as dangerous as having no knowledge at all, and he’s on a mission to change this awareness, beginning with a live music and education event on November 16.
“I believe that much of the stigma around openly talking about mental health issues stems from outdated and wrong ideas, influenced by stigma associated with depression and anxiety,” Prugue says.
“It is here that the stigma around mental health conversations are formed, so we need to address that much of our awareness may be founded on wrong and hurtful beliefs, and if we want to make a difference, we have to start here.”
Prugue has embarked on a mission to help confront the stigma around mental health, a challenge he set himself following his life being touched by suicide five times already this year.
“Up until then, my only firsthand exposure to suicide was when I was in high school and my best friend’s girlfriend wanted to take her own life.”
Sudden ‘exposure to suicide’
The sudden exposure to this trend sent Prugue into a period of research, where he studied current research about suicide and its impact on society. He has decided to not focus on the 25 per cent of people experiencing depression and anxiety, but on the other 75 per cent.
“The stigma is most present in others who aren’t battling depression. By using education, I am hoping that by being better informed, we can empower the rest of us to be present and engaged with those who need our empathy most.”
His new project is called People Reaching Out to People, or PROP.
Prugue has enlisted the help of others and is working on developing an app, a website, and a “pay-it-forward” education system that will help deliver dynamic mental health support services to existing agencies, and an information resource to the general public. To raise awareness around this new service, he has organised an event where three leading figures will present; taking place on Wednesday, November 16, at The Basement in Sydney. It will feature a special performance by 80s iconic band, Mental as Anything.
“The night is not a fundraiser, but to unite as many influencers as possible,” Prugue says. “I will ask those who join me on the night to enrol with PROP and commit to read four email tutorials received fortnightly, written by SuperFriend. Each tutorial will take only 15 minutes to read and their purpose is to push our outdated awareness into a more factual, informed position on depression and anxiety. The low cost of $60 per person reflects my asking for your commitment to join me on this educational journey and help me confront this stigma head on.”
Tickets for the event can be purchased from www.moshtix.com.au/PropAtTheBasement