Sydney Swans coach John Longmire has shared his experiences with mental illness to help the AFL Players’ Association launch new online mental health platform Better Out Than In.
The first of several stories from AFL players and coaches to launch on the Better Out Than In website, Longmire’s video helps reframe the conversation about men’s depression from one of shame, stigma and secrecy to one of courage, hope and strength.
Built in partnership with beyondblue, MATES in Construction, La Trobe University and the AFL Coaches’ Association, with donations from the Movember Foundation, Better Out Than In aims to reduce stigma associated with anxiety, depression and/or suicide amongst Australian men aged 30 to 64 years.
Based on the premise that sharing and hearing real-life stories about mental illness is one of the most powerful ways of reducing self-stigma, Better Out Than In is an easy-to-use online platform with a strong emphasis on storytelling and easy access to support strategies and services.
AFL Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh is proud of what the new platform will do in normalising depression and, more broadly, mental illness.
“Hearing stories from the likes of AFL players, AFL coaches and everyday construction workers about dealing with mental illness will do a lot to break down the stereotypes often attached to mental illness,” Marsh said.
“Mental illness doesn’t discriminate so we need to do everything we can to normalise conversation around it to encourage those affected to speak up to those close to them and ask for assistance.”
MATES in Construction CEO Jorgen Gullestrup is thrilled to partner with the AFL industry on such an important campaign, commenting on the similarities between football and construction teams.
“Football and construction work are team activities where we rely on each other to get results, yet we find it hard to share our problems and emotional pain with our team mates,” Gullestrup said.
“Suicide is the number one cause of death in the construction industry and research shows that mental health issues are better out than in – shared with our team mates and colleagues – so, if we are to fundamentally achieve our goal, then we need to change culture.”
Founding Chair of beyondblue and former Hawthorn Football Club president, Jeff Kennett, has witnessed first hand how having well-known identities speak out about their experiences with mental health conditions, can assist everyday Australians dealing with similar situations.
“One in eight Australian men will have depression in their lifetime so it’s important that people realise that depression and anxiety can affect anyone, and the sooner you seek help, the better,” Kennett said.
“We must keep the conversation around mental health flowing to ensure that anyone dealing with a mental health condition, feels comfortable enough to talk about their feelings with a friend, family member, co-worker, teammate or health professional.”
Better Out Than In received $450,000 in funding from beyondblue, via donation from the Movember Foundation.