Fans Mental Health

Courageous Conversations: Wayne Johnston

Former Carlton footballer Wayne Johnston has partnered with Movember for the latest instalment of Courageous Conversations. 

Video produced by John Holdsworth and Dale Cochrane

Wayne Johnston can remember the defining moment when he knew his life was beginning to spiral out of his control.

Battling alcohol and substance abuse and the dissolution of his marriage, Johnston had a breakdown.

What followed was a turning point in his life where Johnston was committed to moving forward and winning back his family, friends and his own integrity.

“It is a day of redemption,” he told for the latest instalment of the Courageous Conversations series, brought to you by Movember.

“I would never have thought I would be here on this day, talking like this.”

Johnston’s battles with addiction and mental health began during his playing days.

The 209-gamer, known as The Dominator’ throughout his career, had a fanatical and aggressive style of game play which he enjoyed but that aggression filtered through to his life after football.

When he retired in 1990, Johnston felt he was mentally and physically shot, already using gambling and alcohol as an escape mechanism.

“All of a sudden there was nothing to be fanatical about and there was nothing to be aggressive about,” he said.

“Unfortunately when you’re (drinking) alcohol and you gamble what does come in is a bad aggression and a really bad attitude.”

“I have no doubt that I lost control of my moral fibre as a man, my physical fibre as a man and as a father … god knows.”

Johnston is now at a stage where he feels happy, finding enjoyment through his family, friends and training six times a week with personal trainer Rob Grey.

Despite the monumental changes in his life, Johnston still feels he has inroads to make.

“I think I can go a lot further than this. For myself, as a family man and a father and a friend,” he said.

Movember’s global mental health director Brendan Maher said perceptions around what it means to be a man often impacted men’s mental health.

“Many men feel having a job and providing for their family is central to being a man. If they feel they aren’t living up to that, they can believe they’re failures.”

“Having close mates to talk to and rely on during tough times is vital for good mental health. But we know through Movember-funded research that men’s social circles can weaken as work and family become the priority. Men are more likely to rely on their partners for emotional support. If that relationship breaks down, coping can become more challenging if they don’t have support around them.”

Need Support? If you know someone who requires urgent assistance or support, please contact:

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36

Lifeline13 11 14

Kids Helpline1800 55 1800

Mens Line Australia1300 78 99 78

Support for AFL Players: If you are a current or past AFL Player and would like to know more about our specialised wellbeing and mental health services please contact the AFL Players’ at or Tel. 03-8651 4300 (Mon to Fri, 9am – 5pm).