Mental health at the forefront for AFL

Depression and mental health remain an important talking point after St Kilda legend Danny Frawley died in a car crash late last Monday.

It is understood Frawley had struggled with depression long-term and had recently stopped receiving counselling and medication about eight months ago.

Anita Frawley says her husband believed he had overcome the illness and made the decision to remove himself from all support networks and psychiatric care which ultimately led to the deterioration of his condition.

Lived experience speaker and musician Katherine Walpole has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and is a recovering alcoholic.

Walpole believes people suffering from mental health issues often avoid continuing with counselling so as to avoid causing an inconvenience for others.

Katherine Walpole. Photo: Steve Wise.

“You just want that exacerbation to end, so you appease everyone around by saying you’re fine now, you’ve had counselling, you can’t bare the process and you just want to get everybody off your back,” she says.

Walpole believes it’s too difficult to know the intricacies of Frawley’s passing but there are a number of possibilities that have to be considered.

“It could have been a planned suicide strategy from eight months ago if he was not getting the correct amount of care, or something completely different,” she says.

Walpole says some episodes of depression are more severe than others and that it is an important distinction to make.

The World Health Organisation says suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds worldwide. Photo: Tiffany Verga.

‘There’s what I call melancholy, where you can feel a bit blue, maybe it’s your time of the month or the sun hasn’t been shining recently and then there’s depression which is being sick, where there is something going on in your brain that is really scary,” she says.

Manager of the Health Promotion Unit at the University of Western Australia Tricia Wylde says there are a number of factors that need to be considered in addition to a person’s mental state.

“For a lot of people, their doctor will be helpful as they can look at physical causes, explain the illness, prescribe the medication and refer to specialists,” she says.

Tricia Wylde says canceling medication and care can have adverse affects on a person’s health.

“Just like any physical illness, sometimes people start to feel better and then decide that they don’t want to continue…

“Medication shouldn’t be stopped suddenly and without close follow up to make sure symptoms are not returning,” she says.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide get help immediately. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Categories: General, Health, Mental Health