Former AFL footballer, Jake Edwards, gave an honest and heartfelt presentation to Specialist Sports students on Monday, sharing his journey with anxiety and depression, drug use, and his attempted suicide.

This confronting session—part of the Outside the Locker Room program—gave students a wealth of practical ideas they could implement into their own lives—including the critical issue of recognising mental health issues in themselves and others’, and where and how to seek help.

Jake spoke openly about the frustration of being at the beginning of an AFL career, yet unable to get himself out of bed in the morning.

“It seemed like I had everything – a great job, a supportive family, a beautiful girlfriend – yet I was crippled with anxiety,” he said. “Like so many men, I supressed it, put on a mask each day, and tried to get on with things. “It wasn’t until I found the courage to admit I had a problem that things began to change.”

Jake introduced students to a book called The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters and left them with the challenge to identify and practice coping strategies that can work in their own lives.

“Things WILL go wrong in life,” he said. “We have to look after ourselves first, so we can be there for the important people in our lives.”