A group of elite athletes from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has made a trip to NSW’s Broken Hill to help spread a message of health and wellbeing in the outback.
The AIS has partnered with Lifeline Broken Hill for a local campaign entitled How’z Ya Mate, which has an emphasis on the social, emotional and physical wellbeing of men in the far western NSW town and surrounds.
Athletes, Jenna O’Hea (basketball), Declan Stacey (diving) and Gordon Allan (para-cycling), spent time visiting schools and sporting events in Broken Hill as part of the Lifeline Community Custodians program.
Chief Executive of Lifeline Broken Hill, Scott Hammond said the campaign encouraged men to check the state of their own wellbeing as well as that of their mates.
“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,” Mr Hammond said.
“It’s an enormous effort for young people in rural and regional areas to uphold their commitment to sport.”
Mr Stacey (pictured right), a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, 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, break down, or cry, but like anyone, including athletes, we are all human and all face challenges.”
A total of 21 Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes from 13 sports have been selected as Lifeline Community Custodians.
The program, in partnership with AIS Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement, aims to reduce the stigma of mental health and promote the positive contributions athletes and sport can make to the community.