Buddy Franklin’s request that his fiancé Jesinta Campbell remain working in Japan despite the difficult time he’s going through, is a typical response from men struggling with mental illness. This “I’ll be right” attitude may be common, but it’s also dangerous.
Alarming statistics show suicide is the biggest killer of Australians under 44 years-of-age, with men accounting for an alarming 75 per cent of all suicide deaths.
Revelations of the football star’s mental health struggles have drawn awareness to the plight of men, with Franklin receiving overwhelming support from the Sydney Swans, fans and even Sir Richard Branson.
Despite this it has also demonstrated that we haven’t come far enough in terms of the stigma that accompanies mental illness. Keeping the player‘s mental health issues private while openly revealing his epilepsy diagnosis is an example of this.
Why are we still asking for privacy for depression and anxiety, but not for physical conditions? It only perpetuates the unwarranted feelings of shame.
Men especially tend to put off getting any kind of help because they think they are supposed to be tough, able to manage pain and take charge of situations.
With this established mode of thinking it becomes very hard for men to acknowledge they have any health problems, let alone a mental health problem. This increases the risk of their depression or anxiety going unrecognised and untreated.
On the eve of the coinciding R U OK? and World Suicide Prevention days tomorrow, and Buddy Franklin’s plight, comes the reminder that while we might not be able to “cure” our loved ones mental woes, we can reach out, simply asking how they are and letting them know we’re with them.
Australian Health Minister, the Honourable Sussan Ley MP, said that we’ll all grapple with tragedy, loss, and grief through life but, feeling connected and supported by those we love is the key to knowing there’s a way out.
“Regular, meaningful conversations are one way we can all support each other to cope with change, adversity and illness,” she said. “If you ask – listen without judgement, encourage action; and follow up, you can make a positive difference to someone’s resilience and wellbeing.”
Franklin’s future for the season remains up in the air, but let’s all hope he’s accessing the care he, and other men in the grips of mental health so desperately need.
If you, or someone close to you needs help, please call:
Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14
Beyond blue – support via telephone 24/7 (just call 1300 22 4636), daily web chat (between 3pm–12am) and email (with a response provided within 24 hours).
DepressionNZ -helpline 0800 111 757
Healthline – (In New Zealand ) 0800 611 116