Top five sports star guest speakers on mental health
For many businesses and organisations, breaking mental health stigma and helping people develop coping strategies and tools are top priorities.
An increasing amount of these organisations, large and small, are engaging elite athletes to share their stories and learnings at events, workshops and as part of promotional campaigns and content.
Why? Sports stars bring unique perspectives from a high performance environment:
They face intense pressure and scrutiny (e.g. media and fans)
They understand resilience and overcoming adversity
They understand the importance of physical and mental health
They are dedicated to optimising their life for peak performance, in all circumstances
Because of this, elite athletes offer amazing insights on mental health, resilience, depression, anxiety and more. Here’s five sports star speakers who share their inspiring stories.
Sharni Layton has become a key spokesperson on mental health after publicly sharing her experiences with severe anxiety and depression throughout her prominent netball career. She focuses on the importance of taking time to rehabilitate from any ‘mental health injuries’, following a six-month break from netball in 2017 which saw her sacrifice a potential position in the Diamonds line-up for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
A childhood filled with hardships and mental health challenges has inspired NRL Manly Seas Eagles star Joel Thompson to become a dedicated advocate for spreading awareness on depression and suicide, especially in Indigenous and Aboriginal communities. In 2012, he founded ‘The Mindset Project’, which provides motivational talks and tailored workshops on mindset practices and coping strategies.
Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei is a retired UFC fighter who uses his story to show that even the toughest of fighters can experience mental health battles. Today, he is a mental health ambassador for mining contractor Macmahon Holdings. His specialty includes breaking the stigma against men experiencing a mental health challenge and conducting regular talks which often focus on how working away from home can impact mental well-being.
Libby Trickett OAM
Libby Trickett OAM is extremely passionate about mental wellbeing, having experienced depression during her extensive swimming career and later when transitioning into motherhood. She is a powerful voice for mental health and an ambassador for Beyond Blue, Queensland Health and R U OK day. Her mission is to support others in their journeys and emphasise to various groups that “it’s OK not to be OK”.
A lifetime of BMX and mountain bike racing certainly has its dangers and consequential impact upon mental wellbeing, but eight-time world champion Caroline Buchanan has taken great steps towards mental health resilience. She incorporates mindfulness, meditation and gratitude into her coping strategies, and repeatedly uses the slogan “that’s interesting” to diminish any doubts or anxieties that confuse her mental space.
Want to view more sports mental health speakers? View the list of mental health advocates available on PickStar here.
We have now made it even easier for you to find these motivational sports guest speakers, with our new filtering system allowing you to search for athletes who are mental health advocates.
If you or anyone you know needs help, please contact:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36
Headspace 1800 650 890