Osher Günsberg's new mental health fight: ‘I’ve been there’

·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·5-min read

Content warning: this article discusses mental health and suicide.

Osher Günsberg is undoubtedly one of the busiest Aussies in showbiz. Along with several podcasts, the 47-year-old hosts a staggering four TV shows including the Bachelor franchise and the recently-returned Masked Singer.

In an exclusive chat with Yahoo Lifestyle, Osher opens up about his pivot from the bright lights of reality TV to investigate Australia's alarmingly high suicide rates in the SBS documentary Osher Günsberg: A Matter of Life and Death.

Osher Günsberg in the SBS documentary Osher Günsberg: A Matter of Life and Death. Photo: SBS (supplied).
Osher Günsberg investigates Australia's high suicide rates in the SBS documentary, Osher Günsberg: A Matter of Life and Death. Photo: SBS (supplied).

A matter of life and death

There's no other way to put it: our country's suicide stats are confronting and alarming.

Every day eight people in Australia die from suicide while a further 179 people attempt to take their own lives.

It's a subject close to home for Osher, who has long been open about his own past experiences with depression, psychosis and suicidal ideation.

In A Matter of Life and Death, Osher asks what's being done to address the issue and why it doesn't seem to get the same attention as other causes of death.

"If 56 people died this week from, I don't know, let's just say bus crashes, we would stop every bus in the country until we figured it out," he says.

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Osher Günsberg hosting The Masked Singer. Photo: Channel 10.
Osher's hosting credits include The Masked Singer and the Bachelor franchise. Photo: Channel 10.

'I've been there'

The good thing is, as Osher discovers, the experts agree that suicide is preventable and there's a raft of new science, innovative thinking and technology that's helping to do so.

But that's addressing only part of the problem. The long-standing stigma attached to mental health issues, Osher explains, can cause those who are struggling as well as their friends and family to clam up.

"It's so socially very difficult to have that discussion because of what we're afraid of discovering if someone's in that much pain.

"We're afraid to even ask the question because we're afraid to be exposed to what's probably quite a personal thing.

"But we need to stop. [Choosing to avoid] feeling uncomfortable asking someone a question is not worth a life."

Normalising discussions around taboo topics such as depression, anxiety and suicide is a fight Osher's more than willing to take on.

"We absolutely have to talk about it, it's a national emergency. Not to mention the 179 people who will attempt [suicide] today.

"That is someone who's in a humongous amount of pain and every one of those 179 people has a husband, wife, brother, sister, father, daughter, son, uncle, cousin who knows that they're in that much pain, so it's affecting a lot of people in our community.

"So when they [SBS] asked me to come and do this documentary I said, 'Absolutely. I've been there, I know what it's like. How can I help?'"

Osher Günsberg with his family. Photo: Instagram/osher_gunsberg.
Osher with his wife, Audrey, stepdaughter, Georgia and son, Wolfie. Photo: Instagram/osher_gunsberg.

Osher's recipe for mental wellness

As for taking care of his mental health while juggling his full-on career and family life, Osher tells Yahoo Lifestyle that he has a bit of assistance behind the scenes.

"I guess at this point I'm essentially a company, and we produce one product and that product is television hosting," he says.

"My company has a finance department, we have a scheduling department, we have a management department, we have a marketing department so there's a team of people around me that help me bring the product that I deliver," he adds.

As a highly sought-after host-with-the-most, Osher feels 'very lucky' to have people helping manage his time and to say no to projects when he's stretched too thin.

The second part of his strategy involves prioritising self-care activities that help him to reduce anxiety, manage his mood and keep his brain and body healthy. 

"I try as hard as I can to make self-care a daily habit. My journaling and training to move my body. At least those two things I try to get every single day.

Osher compares the process of journaling to 'taking out the rubbish the morning after a dinner party'.

"You're like, 'Oh the kitchen stinks of prawns, ew', then you put them in the bin and the kitchen feels better.

Osher Günsberg participating in a virtual cycling event. Photo: Instagram/osher_gunsberg.
The keen cyclist kept up his rides virtually during lockdown. Photo: Instagram/osher_gunsberg.

"So I get up in the morning when my head's full of crap and I write it all down and get it all out of my head and it feels much better."

A keen cyclist, Osher tries to make going for a ride or doing a workout part of his morning routine so he can reap the benefits throughout the day.

"Exercising stimulates the release of hormones in my body that allow me to shift mood states throughout the day.

"So it's not like 'I have to go work out', it's like, 'I know this is when I work out now' in the same way that I get up in the morning and I go to the toilet or I get up in the morning and I make coffee. I get up in the morning and, after the baby's awake or whatever, I'll go and do some squats. If you make it a habit, it's easy. 

"You're keeping fit mentally as well as keeping fit (hopefully) physically which gives you a kind of cushion of resilience to get through things that are unpredictable."

If you are concerned about the mental health of yourself or a loved one, seek support and information by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.

Osher Günsberg: A Matter of Life and Death airs 8:30pm, September 19 on SBS.

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