NRL star raising awareness for men’s mental health

NRL tough guy Jake Trbojevic is showing his softer side as an ambassador for mental health campaigns.

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles vice-captain Jake Trbojevic knows all too well the pressures many men face on a daily basis to act strong — physically and mentally.

Being involved in the heavily male-dominated NRL football environment, he says it is important men feel comfortable seeking help when needed.

“Everyone wants to be tough, and I guess they (men) don’t realise there are people they can speak to,” Jake, 25, says. “There’s always ways around it.”

The star player is a proud ambassador for the Gotcha4Life Foundation, started by his good mate, Gus Worland, to help improve mental health among men.

Jake is also part of Schick’s The Man I Am campaign, which celebrates male individuality.

“Mental health is such a complex topic, especially for men who feel pressure to always be tough,” Jake says.

He reveals he has been personally touched by the issue when a mate he played football with took his life a few years ago.

“Gotcha4Life is doing great work trying to educate young men about the importance of talking to one another and supporting one another, while Schick’s The Man I Am is helping men be comfortable in the skin they’re in,” he says.

“I’m really pleased to get on board with these two great initiatives (and) help out whenever I can.”

A perfect fit

Considered one of the toughest defenders in one of the world’s most brutal sports, Jake is also known as one of the game’s genuine nice guys.

And that’s why Gotcha4Life founder Gus knew he’d be a perfect fit as an ambassador for the charity as it continues its work in helping to reduce Australia’s male suicide rate.

“Jake is the perfect example of someone who young men would look up to — someone who’s super tough but also a very nice person with good values and the emotional muscle to have a proper conversation,” Gus says.

“He’s a perfect ambassador to talk to schools and sports clubs and let blokes know that it’s OK not to be OK. That you don’t have to have all the answers.”

“(By) sharing experiences, you’re more likely to get through stuff when things get a bit stormy.” – Gus Worland

Setting new standards

Jake says it is important to break down the notion that men shouldn’t show their vulnerabilities.

But it doesn’t help when keyboard warriors attack from the sidelines.

“Social media, especially after a loss when people are bagging you and your teammates, that can be quite frustrating at times,” he says.

“I guess you’ve got to try not to read it. If you let it get you down it’ll just keep getting worse. There is always someone else to talk to.”

Gotcha4Life, now in its third year, raises funds to improve services for men’s mental health, including training more male Lifeline counsellors and the Tomorrow Man program, which is targeted at teenage boys.

“We’ve got quite a simple philosophy — it’s find someone who has Gotcha4Life,” Gus says.

“Find one of your mates and turn them into a proper friend. It doesn’t mean you have to have deep and meaningful conversations every time you talk, but someone in your life has to know what’s truly going on around your life.

“If you do that, you’re sharing experiences, you’re more likely to get through stuff when things get a bit stormy.”

Buy a Gotcha4Life headband or wristband to help raise awareness around men’s mental health.

Available at all Chemist Warehouse stores for just $2.99 each.