It took more courage to face my demons than it ever did to stand firm on the battlefield.
Nathan Bolton is a founder and director of Bolton Brothers; a psychology company focused on changing the face of men’s mental health.
With men making up 7 out of 9 of all suicides in Australia alone, Bolton Brothers takes a gendered approach to mental health services, to support men find the courage to reach out and ask for help during times of crisis and need. An organisation with one goal, to inspire, empower, educate and improve mental health awareness, break stigma and promote help-seeking behaviour for men and the wider community.
In addition to his work with Bolton Brothers, Nathan sits on the South Australian Premier’s Council on Suicide Prevention, is the South Australian representative of the Special Operations Engineer Regiment Welfare Association, and previously sat on Wellbeing South Australia’s Community Advisory Committee for Mental Health.
By the age of just 21, Nathan earned a Certificate III in Geoscience, worked in the mines, worked on the oil rigs, was a volunteer firefighter with the Country Fire Service, and joined the Army before rising to Australia’s Special Forces.
After joining the Army, Nathan was quickly accepted into the Special Operations Engineer Regiment based out of Holsworthy in Sydney between 2009 and 2014. In 2009 and 2013, Nathan supported the Military Domestic Counter Terrorism Unit TAG East protecting Australia’s interests.
In 2010 and 2012, Nathan deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Special Operations Task Group. Here he found himself involved in multiple traumatic situations, from having his vehicle blown up, being pinned down by enemy gunfire, accepting his death laying on top of IED’s, and more. In 2011, Nathan attempted and completed the SASR Selection course. However, Nathan was medically discharged from the Australian Defence Force in 2014 for physical injuries sustained on his second tour. He was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depression. Nathan lost the next five years of his life to severe mental ill-health, where he mustered all the energy he had to protect himself from himself merely. However, after hitting rock bottom, Nathan finally broke his silence and sought psychological support. Here he learned to make peace with his past and his newfound limitations and An unexpected silver lining forged out of the depths of suffering and an unrivalled lesson when it comes to living authentically.
Accomplishments and Awards:
- Special Operations Engineer Regiment "Soldier of the Year"
- Soldier of Merit award for Combat Engineer
- Initial Employment Training Skill at Arms award for Basic Training
- Kapooka Completed the SASR Selection Course
- Kandahar International Marathon 42.2km
- Afghanistan Hubert100 Marathon 42.2km
- Flinders Rangers 24hr Trial Sidecar finisher
Although it’s more socially acceptable to reach out and ask for help than ever before, there is still a strong stigma attached to mental health. Many of us are willing to support a friend in need. However, being the one asking for help still has many of its challenges. Realising that speaking up is a display of strength and courage rather than a weakness is still the most significant battle being faced.
A common misconception is that the first step to overcoming a mental health challenge is to reach out and ask for help. Unfortunately, that is step two. Step one is being inspired and empowered actually to accept that you need help, to begin with. We all deserve to flourish and live our best life, but some of us just haven’t yet had the opportunity to see that life could be different.
Never underestimate the remarkable resilience of the human spirit. We can endure so much, suffer so profoundly, and yet, grow to be better because of it. Facing adversity in life is just as certain as death and taxes, but we can choose how equipped and prepared we want to be when it comes to adversity. The bigger your boat, the smaller the large storms will feel.
Special Forces Soldier: Nathan Bolton's JourneyNathan Bolton was a Special Operations Engineer deploying twice to Afghanistan with Australian Special Forces. He worked alongside some of the toughest and most elite soldiers in the world, supporting the Commandos and the SAS as they landed time and time again into hostile enemy territory. After his second tour, the stress and the pressure of the job was a heavy burden on Nathan and he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depression; a battle that almost took his life. But the soldier in Nathan kept fighting and through years of hard work and a firm belief in a better life, Nathan made a profound recovery. Nathan now shares his story for all to hear, and by using his own experiences, he discusses the mistakes he made, the lessons he learnt and most importantly, that in our darkest hour, when all hope seems lost, recovery is possible.
Nathan’s raw, honest, yet light-hearted approach not only held the room, but allowed everyone to witness the true courage of vulnerability in an engaging and unique way. ... keep reading RAAF
Nathan’s presentation was captivating from the very beginning, holding the attention of the audience who were on the edge of their seats for the entire hour. His delivery was incredibly powerful and at times very emotional, as we learnt about his personal experiences at war and the challenges he faced with mental health. Nathan’s powerful delivery was raw, emotional and resonated with so many employees in a positive way.
He has a tremendous ability to make you lose yourself in his world and feel as if you are experiencing everything with him. His talk has had a profound impact on my life and I am sure many others. A very moving, intense and memorable moment.
Nathan not only met all of our criteria but excelled. His experiences in the Armed Forces go against our typical view of the ‘hero in the Army’. Nathan’s story is complex and taps in to a rawness that was more than compelling. By standing in front of other men and being honest about his lived experience and vulnerabilities we saw a willingness to create change and challenge stereotypes of masculinity. His words were passionate and thought provoking.
I have no hesitation in ensuring that Nathan’s ability and enthusiasm to speak in the public arena is both professional and inspiring to audiences of all ages, genres and demographics.
Nathan provided a raw, inspirational, and exclusive insight into his lived experiences as not only an Australian soldier, but a man. He spared no details and was willing to share personal stories that are eye opening and captivating. The presentation provided a firsthand experience of the life and struggles of mankind which is engaging and relatable to many contexts. The general open nature that Nathan possesses actively addresses the taboo and confronting topics of mental health, resilience, and determination. Nathan was professional and his lived experiences would benefit a variety of age groups and demographics.
Nathan your inspirational talk on your life story as well as your resilience to overcome your mental health issues at our special schools was powerful. You opened your heart and shared honestly your feelings and thoughts making it very heartfelt, emotional and memorable. To us you are the Super Hero, overcoming your challenges and we admire and respect that very much. Like one of the students said - “you represented and fought for our country and we would like to say thank you”!