Australia

AFL teams up with Lifeline to boost mental health awareness

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, Dr Ranjit Menon, Dr Kate Hall and Lifeline Australia CEO Colin Seery. Source: Australian Football League

The Australian Football League has joined forces with Lifeline as an official charity partner to help promote mental health, on the field and off.

The AFL has formed a "game-changing" charity partnership with Lifeline Australia as part of its campaign to tackle the scourge of mental health issues.

The new announcement that Lifeline is the AFL's new charity partner comes four months after Dr Kate Hall joined the league as its mental health boss and Dr Ranjit Menon became the chief psychiatrist.

In September, former AFL player Danny Frawley's death devastated the football community.

A memorial service for Danny Frawley was held in Melbourne on September 18.
A memorial service for Danny Frawley was held in Melbourne on September 18.

His widow Anita later released a statement that discussed Frawley's ongoing mental health struggles.

Cricketers Nic Maddinson and Glenn Maxwell are having time off because of mental health issues, while last week their Victoria teammate Will Pucovski asked not to be considered for Test selection.

St Kilda star Jack Steven had time off this season because of mental health and he was traded to Geelong so he can be closer to family, while Western Bulldogs star Tom Boyd retired prematurely.

"It (mental health) is the biggest issue we have across our clubs and our playing group and our people," AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said.

"I know there's an appetite to take it head-on and speak to it and address it, from the presidents right through to the footy departments."

Dr Hall said they continue to meet with clubs to discuss what the league needs to do around mental health.

"We have had a warm welcome," she said.

Issues such as illicit drugs and alcohol are also part of their work.

"We know there's an integral relationship between the two (mental health and illicit drugs)... it's definitely on our radar," Dr Hall said.

Another growing issue is concussion, with St Kilda's top draft pick Paddy McCartin taking a year out of the game and going public with how the effects of head knocks had also affected his mental health.

Saints player Paddy McCartin will sit out the 2020 season to focus on his mental health and wellbeing.
Saints player Paddy McCartin will sit out the 2020 season to focus on his mental health and wellbeing.

"Concussion is definitely one of the areas that we want to work with...it means we're aware of the risks," Dr Hall said.

Eight Australians die from suicide every day and it is the biggest killer of males between 15-44.

"We're proud to partner with Lifeline to encourage Australians, especially young Australians, to stay connected and ask for help if they're struggling," McLachlan said.

"There is much work to be done (around mental health).

"This isn't just essential for our game, it's essential to enhance the well-being of the wider community.

"The partnership is natural and logical."

Readers seeking support with mental health can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. More information is available at Beyond Blue.org.au

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