By Nick Creely
Jordan Wyatt is doing everything he can to make a difference.
One run at a time.
And not just to help his side win games of cricket on the weekends, but more importantly, to help overcome the stigma related to mental health.
The Casey-South Melbourne batsman is donating $1 per run he scores this Victorian Premier Cricket season to Mindfull Aus, an organisation founded by Matt Runnalls aimed at encouraging those to come out of the shadows of stigma through self-acceptance and a greater education of mental health issues.
For Wyatt, it’s all about creating awareness of mental health issues, and encouraging those suffering to speak up, and not suffer in silence. But on a personal level, the cause and everything it stands for and aims to achieve is dear to his heart after suffering from mental health issues, particularly anxiety in his teenage years.
“I’ve previously had issues with mental health, and I know how hard it is to speak up, but once you do, it does get a lot easier, and I want to promote that positivity around it, and try and get rid of that negative stigma surrounding mental health issues,” he said.
“So I’m looking for it as an opportunity to create a bit of awareness again.
“That’s why $1 per run is going straight to Mindfull and the work they do with especially young men, and not just the 18 to 40 bracket, it’s even younger now which is concerning.”
Wyatt said that the first step to overcoming any debilitating mental health issue is being honest with yourself, and taking that plunge into self-acceptance and starting a conversation with someone that is close, and can be trusted.
He firmly believes that it’s helped him get on top of his issues in the past, and managing it further into the future.
“The biggest battle that anyone with mental health issues faces is owning up to it, and admitting there is even an issue there,” he said.
“The thing is, once you do address it, get help and have people on your side and in your corner, they’re able to support you through it.
“If you’re suffering in silence, people around you might not know you’re struggling, and therefore might not be able to assist you.
“It’s hard; it’s a really challenging thing to be able to speak up. You get quite emotional thinking about it.”
Wyatt said that the work Runnalls is doing with Mindfull Aus has inspired him to make a difference and encourage people to access the incredible mental health services available, and to do what he can to ensure people understand that it’s okay to not be okay.
“I’m friends with Matt Runnalls, the founder of Mindfull, and I’ve known him for quite a long time, and knowing him on a personal level is really important I think,” he said.
“When I was at school, there definitely wasn’t as much accessibility to councillors and psychologists and all of the access we now have, and working in a school I’m able to witness that, and it gives me a broader understanding of it also. I definitely think it’s (removing the stigma) come a long way, and on the improve.
“In my case, I want to be seen as a bit of a role model for young guys coming through the ranks, to be there for those that are struggling and need to talk to someone, and if they can see I’m raising awareness and funds for this organisation and this company, that they might see that and go ‘alright, there’s someone I have common interest with or whatever, and I can speak to that person’.
“I feel as though that can hopefully help people speak up about the issues they’re facing, because I know that is 100 per cent the hardest thing to do.
“I’ve had a lot of people around school, and my cricket club band together and support the cause – people have been nothing but supportive to me.
“People do understand how much of a difficult time it is for young people that are going through these issues, and that stigma is slowly dying.”
Wyatt will be hoping that runs are pinging off his Redback blade across the course of the season, with the Swans star sporting a Mindfull Aus sticker on the back of his bat, all with the hope that people simply ask questions and want to know how they can get involved.
But more importantly, Wyatt is hoping that the cause can make people are seriously look after their mental wellbeing in order to live a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.
“It would have been nice to start the season a little bit better, but that’s fine, I’ll aim to improve in the coming weeks and hopefully I can raise a few funds myself,” he said.
“It’s also really nice for other people to chip in along the way – it’s obviously great to play cricket, and I love the game, but for me personally, to be able to contribute on another level when it comes to donating some money that might not have been accessible if someone like me wasn’t raising awareness is great.
“People are really starting to get around it, and show their support.”
Anyone that wants to donate further to Jordan’s cause can head to give.everydayhero.com/au/Jordan-wyatt, with all funds raised going directly to Mindfull Aus and the work they’re doing.
To learn more about Mindfull Aus, head to mindfullaus.org