Hoping to reduce the stigma of mental illness while promoting the positive contributions athletes and sport can make to the community, 21 Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes from 13 different sports have been selected as Lifeline Community Custodians to help spread the message of health and wellbeing in the outback.
The Australian Institute of Sport has partnered with Lifeline Broken Hill as part of the local campaign 'How'z Ya Mate' with an emphasis on the social, emotional and physical wellbeing of men in the far western NSW town and surrounds.
Basketballer Jenna O'Hea, diver Declan Stacey and para-cyclist Gordon Allan spent time visiting schools and sporting events in Broken Hill as part of the Lifeline Community Custodians program.
Lifeline Broken Hill chief executive officer Scott Hammond said the campaign encouraged men to check the state of their own wellbeing as well as their mates.
"Lifeline Broken Hill is really grateful to the athletes who are taking the time out of their busy schedule to come to remote areas like this and share their experiences, especially with boys and men," he said.
"There are a lot of young people here that are striving to become elite athletes, and we look to support them in a holistic sense, whatever their chosen pathway or sport.
"It's an enormous effort for young people in rural and regional areas to uphold their commitment to sport.
"So it's great to see that recognised by the AIS/Lifeline Community Custodians, to not only raise awareness around mental health and How'z Ya Mate, but to share their lived experience at an elite level and provide tips on how they manage the pressure they face themselves."
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Mr Stacey said he was aware that depression in men was not uncommon and often went unrecognised and untreated.
"We live in a culture where men often feel pressure to conform to an unrealistic macho image," Mr Stacey said.
"Real men are not supposed to be weak or cry but like anyone, including athletes, we are all human and all face challenges."
- Details: sportaus.gov.au/ais/custodians