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How the AFL has improved on mental health

Mental health is one of the biggest issues in the AFL right now, and the football community has improved drastically in how it has handled it.

PHOTO: portadelaidefc.com.au

Both Port Adelaide’s Matthew Broadbent and the Western Bulldogs’ Lin Jong announced breaks from the AFL to deal with their own mental health issues.

Going back about 10 years, a player coming out to take a break from the game due to mental health issues would’ve never happened.

These days, players can take a break to try and help themselves and know they have the support of the football community.

The pressures of AFL football, the criticism, the constant need to focus on what you’re doing at all times would be draining on any footballer.

The AFL has how implemented programs to help players with these situations, and some players have taken time off the game to seek help.

Players such as Travis Cloke, Lance Franklin, Jack Steven and the recently retired Bulldogs hero Tom Boyd.

Furthermore, former North Melbourne and Sydney player Wayne Schwass’ story is one to be heard.

Schwass hid his mental health battle for his entire playing career through the 1990s and early 2000s.

PHOTO: Wayne Schwass – Twitter

Schwass shared his story in 2006, and in late 2017, he shared this photo of himself receiving his 1996 premiership medallion with the quote “this is what suicidal looks like.”

These stories being shared show discussing mental health issues isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.

Not just in the AFL, but in all levels of sport and in life, take care of your mental health, and if you’re struggling, seek help, it’s the best thing you can do.

Always ask the question – “are you okay?”

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Jack grew up in Gawler, South Australia – just 45 minutes north of Adelaide – and has a passion for all things football and soccer. Jack has worked in the media for more than four years, and hosts his own sports show on Barossa radio station BBBfm. He previously played football for Elizabeth, South Gawler, Gawler Central and at junior level with Central District, and is a die-hard Port Adelaide fan.