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    CAMPAIGN: Former South Melbourne footballer and Beyond Blue ambassador John Sudholz, left, and Healthy Minds Horsham’s Gavin Morrow, will be guest speakers at a mental health awareness night next month. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

John 'Jumbo' Sudholz to speak on mental health

By Colin MacGillivray

Wimmera residents have a chance to learn about the importance of mental health from one of the region’s well-known sporting figures.

Former South Melbourne footballer John Sudholz, who grew up in Rupanyup, will be a guest speaker at a mental health awareness night at Horsham’s Coughlin Park on November 13.

Mr Sudholz will speak alongside host Gavin Morrow of Healthy Minds Horsham.

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A former Beyond Blue ambassador, Mr Sudholz said he had given talks about his personal battles with mental health across the country, including at Parliament House in Canberra, the Hobart Royal Show and Western Australia’s Pilbara region, as well as many in the Wimmera-Mallee region.

He said it was important for him to pass on lessons he had learned so other people could benefit.

“In my talk I usually touch on what it was like leading up to having a mental breakdown and I talk about recovery from – or, more to the point, management of – mental illness,” he said.

“In the early 1980s when I got sick, nobody could give me much help or tell me what was wrong because mental health wasn’t talked about. My life was at its lowest ebb and I considered suicide.

“I had mood swings where I would be on top of the world one day and terrible the next; I couldn’t understand it and neither could my family. If I had some of the information that is available today, perhaps I would have done things a bit differently.

“I’ve had people come up to me after hearing me talk and say, ‘I’ve felt some of those things too at times but didn’t know what was wrong with me’, and they’re encouraged to seek help.”

Mr Sudholz said awareness and discussion of mental health issues had improved greatly in recent years, but there was still more work to do.

“I would say there has been a shift in people’s attitudes towards mental health,” he said.

“Beyond Blue and Lifeline have really helped bring depression and suicide out into the public arena.

“I was a Beyond Blue ambassador for more than 10 years and they do great work.

“I think there is still a stigma with many men though, because they’re not comfortable enough to talk to their mates and say, ‘I’m not feeling too good, any chance we can have a chat?’

“You’ll find people in every sector struggling with mental illness and like the recent case of Danny Frawley showed, it doesn’t matter if you’re a high-profile footballer.”

Coughlin Park Bowls Club’s Judy Bryan helped organise the night and said it was an increasingly relevant topic.

“We thought there was a need for a talk around mental health, and something that can provide people with information on where to go if they’re struggling,” she said.

Mr Sudholz and Mr Morrow’s talks will be at the Coughlin Park community centre from 7.30pm on Wednesday, November 13.

People can call Judy Bryan on 0408 824 870 for more information.

• People can visit or for information and support about anxiety, depression and suicide. People in need of crisis support and suicide prevention services can call Lifeline’s 24-hour hotline on 13 11 14. If a life is in danger, people should call police on triple zero. 

The entire October 30, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire October 30, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!