VCAL students were encouraged to put the ‘yes’ back into their lives with a visit on Tuesday by former AFL footballer and CEO of ‘Love Me, Love You’ Lance Picioane.

Lance talked openly with students about his own battle with anxiety and depression and how we can all challenge the stigmas surrounding mental illness.

When his AFL career ended in 2005, Lance describes his descent into drugs and alcohol as being like an end of year footy trip that lasted five years. It ended with him contemplating suicide before making the choice to get help and turn his life around.

Lance now talks to thousands of young people every year with his simple message, “you are not alone.”

He stressed to students the importance of having conversations.

“The best thing you can do for someone who is showing signs of depression or anxiety is to be a mate… just be there for them,” Lance said. “Mental illness is not a sign of weakness – everyone’s journey through life is different.”

Read more about Lance Picioane’s personal journey in this great article by Age journalist John Silvester: