WARRNAMBOOL AFL export Wayne Schwass has applauded players coming forward to detail their battles with mental health.
Mr Schwass was the guest speaker at a WorkSafe breakfast function at the Lighthouse Theatre on Monday morning.
October is the WorkSafe Health and Safety month and it's also National Mental Health week.
WorkSafe is holding events across Victoria on a range of topics including mental health, the safety of young workers, an international perspective on health and safety, what to expect during a workplace inspection, OHS issues for small businesses, drugs and alcohol in the workplace, occupational violence, workplace bullying and quad bike safety.
Mr Schwass, 49, was born in New Zealand but moved to Warrnambool when he was 10 years old and excelled as a junior footballer before being recruited by the Kangaroos.
He played in their 1996 premiership before joining the Sydney Swans, playing a combined 282 games.
A dozen years ago Mr Schwass announced that he had suffered from depression during his AFL career.
Since his retirement he has set up The Sunrise Foundation and now advocacy group Puka Up to help others who suffer from similar problems.
He has been a shining light focussing on depression and mental health issues and said on Monday those works far surpassed anything he ever did on a football field.
He applauded star players Tom Boyd, Travis Cloke and Alex Fasolo for coming forward in the past 12 months to talk about their issues with mental health.
During his presentation to about 100 people at the Lighthouse Theatre, Mr Schwass also encouraged the AFL to do more and to lead community discussions.
He said many people battled silently, but workplaces could also help by ensuring they fostered an open environment.
“Mental health issues can impact anyone and I use my own experiences to illustrate to people how important it is to prioritise mental wellbeing,” he said.
“For anyone going through what I went through, it is important to have an opportunity to be able to talk about it openly,” he said.
People experiencing mental health issues can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Puka Up at www.pukaup.com