In fact the Coleman Medal Winner has not only carved out a successful AFL career, but was this year’s winner of, “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here”. To top it off, he has now turned his talents to radio.
However, speaking at the ‘blokes only barbecue’ last month, Fevola revealed that it was his battles with alcohol, gambling and depression which left him struggling in unfamiliar territory.
Indeed, for many years, the AFL legend had a reputation for being talented on the field, but reckless off it. Fevola was involved in a number of controversial incidents, predominantly involving alcohol and/or gambling, that led to the end of his AFL career, the breakdown of his marriage, the loss of his family and long periods of depression.
Hosted by CatholicCare Social Services, the barbecue was held at Singleton Diggers and focused on the importance of mental wellbeing. The free event included a barbecue lunch and a chance for Fevola to talk to other men about the highs and lows of his career, on and off the field.
“With a large turnout, the event proved popular with members of the Lower Hunter community, particularly those from the Singleton district,” CatholicCare Social Services Director, Helga Smit, said.
In particular, the event highlighted the difficulties men experience in seeking help for emotional issues such as depression and anxiety. According to beyondblue, more women than men report experiencing mental health issues, but more men than women die by suicide each year. This suggests that while men and women suffer with depression and anxiety, many men feel prevented from speaking up and seeking support.
In any counselling service, it is common to see more women accessing help than men. However, research shows that well known individuals like Fevola can have a big impact on changing the stigmas surrounding mental wellbeing, particularly for males.
CatholicCare will continue to support people in breaking down these barriers and stigmas associated with mental health issues, and the ‘blokes only barbecue’ was just one of many planned public forums on this important conversation.
“Regardless of whether you are a fan of AFL, Fevola’s story is truly inspiring and his determination to rectify his turbulent past is admirable,” Ms Smit said.
Stay tuned for Mental Health Month in October when CatholicCare will host another mental health forum in the Newcastle region – another important event to keep this conversation going in the hope that more people will seek help when they need it.