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Australian athletes take mental health message to the Outback

14 June 2019

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) is partnering with Lifeline Broken Hill to enable Australian athletes to spread the message of health and wellbeing in the outback.

Athletes Jenna O’Hea (basketball), Declan Stacey (diving) and Gordon Allan (para-cycling) spent time visiting schools, sporting organisations and local community events in Broken Hill in June, 2019 as part of the Lifeline Community Custodians program.

‘How’z Ya Mate’ is a local campaign with 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 Gordan Allan (para-cycling) are spending time visiting schools and sporting events in Broken Hill this weekend as part of the Lifeline Community Custodians program.

Lifeline Broken Hill CEO Scott Hammond said the campaign encourages men to check the state of their own wellbeing as well as their mates.

“Lifeline Broken Hill is really grateful to the athletes who are taking the time out of their busy schedule to come to  remote areas like this and share their experiences, especially with boys and men. 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,” Hammond said.

“It’s an enormous effort for young people in rural and regional areas to uphold their commitment to sport. So it’s great to see that recognised by the AIS/Lifeline Community Custodians, to not only raise awareness around mental health and How’z Ya Mate, but to share their lived experience at an elite level and provide tips on how they manage the pressure they face themselves.”

Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist Declan Stacey says he’s aware that depression in men is not uncommon and often goes unrecognized and untreated.

“We live in a culture where men often feel pressure to conform to an unrealistic macho image,” 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.”

Declan Stacey

For Australian Opal Jenna O’Hea, this event is another opportunity for her to support a cause close to her heart after her 46-year-old uncle died by suicide in late 2018.

“As someone whose family has been directly affected by mental health issues, it’s really meaningful to me to be able to join with other athletes and help create awareness, especially in remote areas of Australia,” O’Hea said.

“During our visit, we will visit a number of schools, sporting clubs and attend the Broken Hill AFL How’z Ya Mate Round and function to increase awareness of mental health, particular amongst males.

This is a great opportunity to not only visit and support Broken Hill but to help as many people in the community as we can - however we can- and that starts with this visit.”

Twenty-one Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes from 13 sports have been selected as Lifeline Community Custodians, a program in partnership with AIS Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement, to reduce the stigma of mental health and promote the positive contributions athletes and sport can make to the community. For more information visit

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