Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin’s fans and even some of his closest friends were stunned by yesterday’s announcement the Sydney Swans player would not be playing in this weekend’s qualifying final against Fremantle due to an ongoing mental health condition.
The Swans explained their star forward was receiving treatment for a “serious but treatable” condition.
“Our first priority is looking after Lance’s health. Lance has been open with the club about his condition and while we consider it a private medical matter, he is aware he has our full support,” general manager of football at the Sydney Swans, Tom Harley, wrote in a statement. It also disclosed that Franklin lives with mild epilepsy that is unrelated to his current mental health issue.
“Obviously, it is a shock to a lot of the boys… It is a very personal thing and private matter with doctors. It is not something you know about until he put his hand up,” the team’s co-captain Jarrad McVaigh added in a press conference.
“As teammates we care for him and we support him.”
It’s not currently known when or whether the 28-year-old will be returning to the field this season. However, what is abundantly clear is the support and understanding of Franklin’s team and coaches — and how vital it is for someone who’s struggling with their mental health to feel comfortable to be open about it in the workplace.
“Feeling depressed or anxious is not only going to affect our home life, happiness and personal life, but also our performance at work. It’s important to have that workplace culture and environment where employees can openly discuss how they’re feeling, and their mental health conditions, without fear of any negative repercussions, discrimination or stigmatisation,” says psychologist Maria Faustino.
There are numerous concerns that can make an employee hesitant to discuss their mental health with their manager or colleagues. Although mental health issues are quite prevalent, and campaigns have helped to reduce the stigma around them, Faustino says some people are still concerned that admitting to feelings of anxiety or depression means they're "crazy".
Others might see asking for help as a weakness, where in reality it's a brave, important and often very difficult first step. "A lot of people are also scared that if they tell their workplace they're going through mental health issues, they might miss out on promotions, salary increases and greater career opportunities," Faustino adds.
However, the physical and mental health of employees is crucial to any workplace. "We need to act more humanistically. Australians are seen as very hard workers, but we also need to have good leaders and manage people much better than we do," says Jasmine Sliger, an organisational and counselling psychologist with JSA International Communications. (Post continues after gallery.)