Capras coach Kim Williams. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Capras coach Kim Williams. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka

Breaking down the mental health stigma

IT'S the conversation no one wants to have, but one the sporting world desperately needs to have.

It's the lonely boy at the party no one is talking to, who desperately wants to be heard.

It's the old lady at the nursing home, forgotten about.

And it's the player trying to crack the limelight and achieve his goals.

One in five Australians suffer depression and it's sadly a common theme with rugby league players, all types.

CQ Capras' coach Kim Williams has not deliberately become a spokesperson for this fight but is happy to be the corner man against it.

"The big thing I am finding and even players here have struggled with dealing with stress, not just footy, their whole life, so if me being out there and talking about it helps these people feel comfortable then that's a positive thing and what it's all about. Breaking down this stigma," Kim said.

"It happens to everyone, if you get an injury or a relationship breakdown, or you are just putting pressure on yourself to make it to the top, there is going to be a point somewhere in your career, a hurdle and it's just about overcoming those.

"I certainly don't think it's restricted to rugby league but our profile is probably the reason people know about it more."

Injury cut short Williams' own career like so many other players before and after him.

"I was no different, a couple of serious injuries in my career and a knee cost me," he said.

"Back then you didn't talk about it, you kept it to yourself and it became harder to deal with.

"You were just left to deal with things on your own and I am sure that destroyed a lot of careers. People would stop playing and that was the end of it. If people are happy to get it out there and talk openly about it, not being judged than that is a real positive."

Depression has affected Kim more than most, two of his Mackay Cutters players took their own lives in the space of three years.

He was called upon to be the man to identify the bodies.

"I think the experience helps in two ways," Kim explained.

"It helps me cope with things whenever you see a player really struggling it affects me, they are your friends and you are close to them.

"But most importantly it helps me assist the players, I am not a counsellor but at least it helps me recognize symptoms so I can point to the right people.

"Quite often I am that first point of contact so it is important I get things right.

"If people want to talk about it than that's a good thing, I am happy to talk about it."