Brent Draper’s MasterChef exit was a shock to many. Now he reveals what he was facing in order to help other men to speak up.
It was one of Aussie TV’s most emotional moments of 2021, when ex-tradie Brent Draper decided to leave MasterChef and put his mental health first.
Now he’s helping to raise awareness for men’s health issues and encouraging others to speak up this Movember.
The Coles ambassador will be walking 200kms in four days from Tweed Heads to Yamba to raise funds to support people with illnesses including prostate cancer and depression.
“This year more than ever, our mental health needs a lot more help,” Draper, 32, said. “My father-in-law was diagnosed with prostate cancer so it’s very personal for me. I’ve got a lot of reasons for doing this.”
Draper said his mental health took a turn during hotel quarantine in Melbourne in June and being away from his partner Shonleigh and child Alfie, 3.
“I was completely homesick and spiralling,” he said. “When I left home, Alfie could only say a couple of words. When I came back, he was able to form sentences .. you miss out on that.
“Every night I would FaceTime my wife because I couldn’t sleep. She wouldn’t even be talking, but I knew she was there.”
Movember research conducted in 2020 found a quarter of men globally reported their mental health had worsened during the pandemic, yet only 16 per cent had spoken to a healthcare provider about their mental health – indicating an ongoing need for Aussies to support the Movember cause in 2021.
“Loneliness and isolation are some of the most common experiences we hear about from Aussie men when it comes to the difficulties underpinning their mental health issues, and lockdown has only exacerbated this,” Movember’s director of mental health training Dr Zac Seidler said.
Coles will again launch its limited-edition moustache-shaped donuts, with 10c from every pack sold donated to Movember.
The supermarket’s exclusive new skincare and grooming range, KOi For Men razor kits, beard oils and face wash will also raise funds, with a $1 donation from each sale going directly to the charity, and ongoing 50c donation after November.
Customers can also donate by purchasing participating products at Coles Express and rounding up their fuel purchase to the nearest dollar throughout November.
“Men don’t like to talk about what’s bothering them but it’s so important to talk to someone,” Draper said. “If you’re not speaking it, you’re storing it – and storing it gets heavy.”