This week in Australia a famous footballer spoke out in the media about dealing with depression, suicidal thoughts, and struggling with demons from his past that included sexual abuse and witnessing extreme violence. He is a well liked young man both inside and outside of the football community, and I have no doubt that the admissions he made to the media will have a positive impact far and wide. He really is a quality young man, and one I have admired for a long time. Long before he dropped his bombshell this week.
I am pleased to know that he will get every bit of help and assistance he needs and he has the full support of his employers - the football club. He will have the best psychiatrists and psychologists at his disposal, time off whenever he needs it to attend his therapies and a boss who knows what is going on, and is supporting him. There will be no interruption to his income for any time he needs to take off as footballers are paid by yearly fixed amount contracts.
Now this is the bit that makes me sad. This young man has everything he could possibly need in terms of treatment and support at his fingertips simply because of the fact that he is a footballer at a wealthy football club. Not many employers are able to provide that kind of support though.
For the rest of us, out here in the real world, dealing with our mental health issues isn't quite so easy. Many of us have to hide our illness from our employer. We juggle appointments around work, are forced to lie to bosses if we need time off - which for some is unpaid. Then we have to find the funds to finance our treating professionals and medications. For the folk in the real world, mental illness can be a cause of financial hardship or even homelessness.
It makes me sad (and angry too I guess), that these two scenarios can exist in society side by side. Where two people can have completely different opportunities, and therefore, completely different outcomes due to their circumstances and available resources. All might be fair in love and war, but it sure isn't in mental health care.