Barry Hall’s depression fight: ‘Nothing to get out of bed for’
AFL great Barry Hall has laid bare the impact depression had on his life during and after footy, in the hope it helps men struggling during the coronavirus lockdown.
The Sydney premiership captain and former footy hardman has teamed with North Melbourne star Shaun Higgins to help coach Victorians through the mental challenges of the stage-four lockdown.
Hall told the Herald Sun he struggled with the black dog until he sought help when playing for the Western Bulldogs, towards the end of his career.
"I had nothing to get out of bed for, so I really struggled after my footy career finished,'' he said. "I had to dig myself out of a hole while not telling anyone, not telling my mates, which, looking back now, was the totally wrong way to go about it.''
He fought new mental demons with "an identity crisis'' when he quit footy and again when he was sacked from Melbourne radio over an on-air sexual gaffe.
Now he will help explain the importance of good mental health in a program called Blokes United, aimed at driving down alarming pandemic suicide rates among men.
"I know Melbourne is doing it tough so we came up with an idea to try and help some guys out during this five-week lockdown period,'' Hall said.
"It's really to help blokes get through this period, to get in a better place mentally.
"Hopefully we can help.''
Hall, Higgins and former Fremantle footballer Richard Maloney came up with the Blokes United concept, to offer men's health help via online conference calls.
Higgins said "it was a small little idea that snowballed quickly'' because of "the state of Melbourne at the moment''.
"Particularly when you just hear so many stories of people struggling and there just isn't an outlet for guys to be able to catch up or chat,'' he said.
"Barry has broken down and more and more guys are open-minded to mindfulness, talking about the situation they are in, and also just being there to support other guys.''
The online sessions will offer tips and tools for people to cope and feature different weekly guests.
"If it helps one person, great - but I'm sure it will help many more,'' Higgins said.
Originally published as Barry Hall's depression fight: 'I had nothing to get out of bed for'