Youth Focus ambassador and newly crowned Fremantle Dockers captain Alex Pearce has shared his experiences with mental health and tips on how to cope with an enthralled crowd at MinRes’ first Mind Matters event for 2023.
‘Get Your Mental Health Game Plan’ brought more than 120 MinRes team members and their families to MinRes HQ to hear Alex share the mental health strategies that have helped him get to the top in the AFL.
Alex has been open about his challenges in the past, and he shares his story because he believes he has a responsibility as a high-profile athlete to help adults and young people alike understand that they are not alone.
Bouts of injury have sidelined him for long portions of his career, which impacted his mental health and led him to develop coping strategies. His experiences have also seen him become a vocal proponent for destigmatising anxiety and depression.
Alex said the steps that had helped him manage his mental health included:
- Acknowledging the negative thoughts and feelings he was experiencing and speaking to a psychologist, his parents, and his friends. He recognised that it’s important to lean on people and this particularly applies to young men who aren’t always good at sharing their feelings.
- Finding interests outside football. Pursuing studies at university gave him another focus and meant he wasn’t dwelling on his injuries.
- Realising that nothing is absolute and we have the power to make changes in our lives – everyone has a choice about their actions.
- Being self-aware about when he might need a boost, and also looking out for teammates and friends to ensure he could help them to be the best versions of themselves too.
Advice from MinRes psychologist Chris Harris
Chris reminded the audience that when we look after our brain, our brain looks after us. Six key elements to a mental health game plan include:
- Sleep – it’s a wellbeing superpower, which plays a vital role in ensuring we function well both physically and mentally.
- Eating well and getting the best nutrition possible to fuel the brain.
- Building and maintaining positive relationships so we have a network of people who can support us when we need it, and who we can support in turn.
- Engaging in exercise has a positive impact on our mood, reduces stress and improves self-esteem.
- Short periods of down time help the brain to reenergize, refocus and problem solve.
- Positive rather than negative self-talk is one of the most effective stress management tools.
This year marks 10 years of Y0uth Focus’ partnership with MinRes. We look forward to many more years of working together to assist the young people of Western Australia.