Retired NRL hardman’s new mental health mission

Former Eels striker David Gower has implored people to take mental health more seriously, at all stages of life.

“I had a 10-year career and by the end of it, I had seen a lot of teammates struggle with mental health and wellness,” he said. wide world of sports.

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Gower said having three children of her own — the oldest in year 3, the middle in kindergarten and the youngest at 18 months — made her realize that the battle for mental well-being had to start long before the age. adult or adolescence.

“Watching athletes at the top of their game struggle with it, I thought ‘you know what? I’m just as worried about my kids,’ and what better place to start than with young children and students.”

Gower retired from the NRL in 2020 and quickly turned his attention to mental health, founding an organization called Forge, which focuses on the well-being of school children.

David Gower during his days in the Eels. (Getty)

“If we can incorporate positive aspects of wellness, we have a real chance to essentially have a generation of kids who understand the importance of good mental health,” he said.

The 36-year-old believes that education is heading in the right direction, and that the days of telling children to have a stiff upper lip and move on are long gone.

“Everybody always says ‘just be more resilient,’ but what does that mean? It’s a learned skill, resilience, and it’s made up of positive emotions, self-esteem, positive relationships — you can’t just wake up in your late teens.” and be resilient,” she said.

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“Change has definitely happened, and I’ve seen it through what schools are doing and it’s extremely encouraging and extremely important.

“The sooner we start empowering our kids, the sooner we’ll have kids who have the skills to deal with adversity. These are extremely important steps: what good is school if you don’t feel good about yourself?”

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Gower’s time at the top, especially at a club like Parramatta where fans crave success after a long title drought, came with many teammates he saw firsthand making it difficult.

“Everything about pressure and expectation. Athletes are no different than anyone else, but there are all these things that are an integral part of being a professional athlete that you’re not immune from.”

“It’s hard to get to the elite level and it’s harder to stay there, but the most important thing is to focus on your mental and physical well-being.

“Gone are the days of ‘real men don’t cry.’ That’s an absolutely archaic mentality that society has had for a long time, but I don’t think it’s still there, it’s changing.

“But there are still people who suffer in silence.”

He said that the main goal above all else was to empower people to speak out about their struggles.

“It’s okay to not feel good about yourself, but these are ways you can improve, and you’re not alone.”

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