Meet the AFL player who is speaking out about depression.
Not too long ago, it would have been almost unheard of for an Aussie male sports star to talk about his mental health issues.
But not any more.
Geelong forward Mitch Clark has been speaking publicly about his struggles with depression since the illness forced him to briefly retire from the sport last year.
In a message posted on Facebook yesterday, the 27-year-old described in detail about what life with depression was really like:
You feel empty inside. You don’t have the motivation to do anything else anymore. You can’t be bothered with the day to day bullshit. You’re too scared to tell people how you really feel so you bury it so deep inside that it destroys you. You fake a smile to avoid the questions. You’re tired. You want it all to end but you have to get up tomorrow and do it all over again. Depression is a killer. I know you can’t see the light within this darkness but please reach out and ask for help. We’re in this together #youareloved
But it’s not the first time he has used social media to speak about depression – it’s something he does regularly, and it has earned him a huge amount of praise from his fans.
His most recent post has already attracted 27,148 likes, almost 4,000 shares and hundreds of supportive and grateful comments.
Facebook user Cherie Wilkins wrote:
Mitch, there aren’t enough words to thank you for being so open about your journey. I don’t know you but your posts give me hope. You hold a special place in my heart for always being there without even knowing it. Thank you for being so honest. You are an inspiration to so many!#YouAreLoved
While Stephen Edward Cusack posted:
Well said brother. I can relate to your words perfectly as I’m sure countless others can as well. Thank you for raising awareness for what we live with everyday.
Black Dog Institute spokeswoman Gayle McNaught said stigma was still a huge issue when it came to seeking help for depression, and that the more celebrities who spoke out, the better.
“The biggest challenges, particularly for men, is stigma – they feel they can’t speak out because other people will judge them – and also self-stigma, where they judge themselves and feel weak,” she says.
She applauded Clark’s comments and said that when high profile people spoke publicly about depression, it often inspired others to seek help.
“They think, ‘If Mitch Clark can do it I can do it’… Things are definitely changing and we definitely believe that high profile sport people do make a difference.”
Psychologists agree that celebrities who speak openly about mental health issues help to reduce the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety as well as encouraging others to seek help for their own problems – and that’s something that should always be applauded.