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How to take care of your mental health

Good as Gold's Podcast EP10

Cooper Chapman is on a mission to change the way we approach mental health. He founded The Good Human Factory in 2020 after his sister lost multiple friends to suicide, and is passionate about encouraging everyone to take care of and improve their mental health.

This week Cal and Em sit down with Cooper on the Good as Gold’s podcast to hear his story about how he went from being a professional surfer to running a successful business. He shares his tips and insights into his habits to achieve good mental health, and discusses why he is doing one year sober at 28 years old.

Cooper has been surfing since he was a boy and got his first sponsor at just ten years old. The sport took him around Australia and the world, chasing the dream of qualifying for the World Tour.

“I haven’t quite got to that level, which for a while I was quite disappointed and felt like I’d underachieved, but I really started to reflect on the last two years and be like, I’ve travelled the world surfing for ten years – I’ve won.”

When he was young Cooper lost his uncle to suicide and watched his dad suffer from mental illness. He was always aware he needed to take care of his mental health so he worked on skills to develop it. When his youngest sister lost multiple friends to suicide in 2019, Cooper knew he had to do something.

“I started to look into the statistics behind mental health here in Australia and understood the problem that we do have and was like, you know what? Maybe I can make a difference to one of two or ten lives. so I developed a bit of a workshop and tied together all the skills and the learnings that I’d had through my surf career, my research and a few little courses I’d done over the years and developed a workshop and took it to my old high school that I went to and spoke to a little group of kids.”

That first year he ran ‘The Good Human Factory’ as a side project while working 50 hours a week as a tradie to fund his surfing career. When COVID hit his competition calendar was wiped, giving him more time to focus on The Good Human Factory. It has been more full-time over the last two years and has grown a lot in the last six months.

“For me, the definition of good mental health is your ability to move yourself back up that scale, to move yourself back up the spectrum when life inevitably throws a difficult situation at you. Whether it be a family member passing away, whether it be a relationship breakup, whether it be a financial struggle, good mental health is the ability to bounce back. And we do that through leaning on resources, like talking to friends, like using great mental illness organisations. What I try to encourage people to do is develop daily habits to have a maintenance plan in place, to not wait until you get to that poor end of the spectrum. It’s like if you’re out in the ocean, instead of just throwing someone the life raft to save them, let’s teach people how to swim.”

When he was young Cooper based his whole identity and self-worth on his career as a professional surfer. Now, he lives to his five values and teaches others the same through workshops and education.


“If you’re living to values you can find purpose in every single day.”

The Good Human Project workshop has been delivered to more than 20,000 high school students, and the Instagram page has over 20,000 followers. On a personal level, Cooper aims to give at least 1 per cent of his day to mental health which equates to 14 minutes. 10 minutes of meditation in the morning and 4 minutes of gratitude in the evening.

“I know if I’m practising gratitude every day and focusing on the good things in my life, then the chemicals in my brain are changing. There’s so much great science out there showing that gratitude releases serotonin, oxytocin in our brain, which are neuromodulators to make us happy.”

By living to his values, he knows if he fails at something he at least gave 100 per cent and that’s what matters. Right now, Cooper’s putting in 100 per cent to a year of sobriety after interviewing a neuroscientist before his 28th birthday in May and she explained how we can experience neurodegeneration from drinking.

“I spoke to another neuroscientist on my podcast and he said if alcohol was discovered today it would be kept in a toxins cupboard in a lab somewhere, yet it’s the most marketed product on the planet.”

“If I can’t take a year off then 1: I don’t have the discipline but 2: it means alcohol’s in control. If you don’t have the discipline to say no to something, you’re not free.”

To hear all the full chat with Cooper, including a deep dive into the five values, subscribe or follow us on YoutubeSpotify or Apple Podcasts.

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