The day before I met Tim Hewson for lunch, the mental health charity he founded, Mongrels Men Health & Wellbeing, set a goal of helping one million men per year by 2034.

Tim, the 392nd person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, founded Mongrels in 2021 as a side project. After leaving corporate in November 2023, he now splits his time between volunteering for the charity and running Betterment Consulting, allowing him to focus on mental health and wellbeing full time.

Mongrels aims to improve the alarming levels of depression, loneliness and suicide among Australian men, through movement, conversation, connection and community.

Tim calculated that if Mongrels can find one community champion in 2,000 different postcodes (there are more than 2,600 postcodes in Australia), and that person can organise one meet-up per week, and that meet-up can attract an average of 10 people, the organisation will be able to improve the mental health of one million men per year.

There were a series of events that inspired Tim to found Mongrels.

The first occurred back in 2008, when he tried to organise a golf game with a friend and found, due to their busy schedules, that the earliest they were both free was in three months’ time. They then thought – if it’s so hard to find time to see each other, why not turn this meeting into an entire golf weekend? And if we’re going to hang out for the entire weekend, why not invite some other men? This golf weekend turned out to be both fun and therapeutic, because it gave the men a chance to talk, be active and build relationships.

As the years went by, Tim took it upon himself to organise other events and bring different groups of men together. He discovered that while women tend to be good at arranging catch-ups and conducting meaningful conversations, men tend to struggle with both aspects of socialising. He also learned that these events were providing men with social connection that they would otherwise lack; and even saving men from suicide.

Tim also struggled through a divorce, which triggered confusion, shame and anxiety. He wasn’t sure how to discuss the issue with his male friends; but when he spoke with women who’d experienced divorce, he was amazed by the quality of their questions and the depth of the conversations he was able to have with them.

Tim is very self-aware and an excellent communicator – not because he was born with those traits but because he’s consciously learned them. Tim has worked hard to become more open and vulnerable, and to improve his listening skills. As an introvert, he says there are still times he feels uncomfortable in social situations, but he continues to improve.

When you’re lonely and depressed, it can sap you of the energy and confidence you need to socialise, which in turn can exacerbate your negative feelings. That’s why it’s vital men know that by attending a Mongrels event they’ll be able to get support and camaraderie, without fear of judgement. 

Tim is a great guy who relishes his work and is grateful for the opportunity to live a purpose-driven life. The goal of reaching one million men per year is ambitious, but, in my view, realistic, because once men discover Mongrels, I’m sure momentum will build. I look forward to attending a Mongrels event soon.