Players help raise the elephant in the room

By Pete Fairbairn, 16.10.18

Last week, six Australian players lent their support and devoted their time to help raise awareness for the elephant in the room; mental health.

Emma Tonegato, Cam Clark, Damien Fitzpatrick, Maurice Longbottom, Ben O’Donnell and Paddy Ryan all volunteered to join Wesley Hospital’s Elephant In The Room campaign in Sydney’s CBD on their days off from training, handing out stress elephants to city workers on their lunch breaks and encouraging open conversations about mental health.

O'Donnell said it was an awesome experience, and a topic he is keen to know more about.

"I'd mentioned to my Player Development Manager Gina Rees that if an opportunity came up to work with a mental health charity, I'd be keen to get involved and give up some time," O'Donnell said "There are lots of wonderful campaigns about Mental Health, especially with it being Australian Mental Health Week in October, and when Wesley Hospital reached out to RUPA it seemed like a great thing to be involved with.

"In general, I think any opportunity to help normalise conversations about mental health should be encouraged, so that anybody who needs support feels comfortable reaching out to get the help that they need." 

Adam Goss, spokesperson at Wesley Hospital, thanked the players for giving up their time to assist with the program. 

“Wesley Hospital’s event aims to encourage Australians to talk more openly and honestly about the ‘elephant in the room’, and continue to remove the stigma that’s still there surrounding mental illness," Goss said.

"We were delighted to be joined by well-known players from the NSW Waratahs and Australian Men's and Women's Rugby Sevens squads, who took to the streets to remind Aussies that not only is it ok to discuss mental health, but to educate them about the treatment options available.”

To find out more about Wesley Mission’s Elephant in the Room campaign, click here.

Pete Fairbairn
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