Adelaide Crows Head of Football
He was the high-flying, specky-grabbing AFL player they called the ‘Bird Man’.
But now, the Adelaide Crows Head of Football is helping to tackle a new opponent – mental illness – as a Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation Ambassador.
Brett says mental illness is going to be the biggest challenge of our lifetime and the Adelaide Crows have a unique opportunity help promote research into the causes, and maybe even find a cure, for mental illness.
“We talk about the mind driving the body, and (football) is a physical sport but clearly we know that (the players) have to be in a good mental state,” Brett says.
“One of the areas we focus on is mental health – it affects so many people and we have a role to play.
“Naturally research is able to assist in that space, and so we’ve partnered up with Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation to not only help our own programs but also to help influence change in the community.
“As a leader at the Crows and father of four children, it is important for me to be the best version of myself and to do that I need to be in a healthy state of mind.”
Owner – James Thredgold Jeweller
Well-known and respected Adelaide jeweller James Thredgold lost his wife Holly to mental illness in 2016.
Holly suffered from depression for many years, and while her battle was kept private, the pair often spoke to one another about wanting to create greater awareness of the condition.
James is now an ambassador for Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation, sharing his story publicly to honour Holly and help other people who suffer from mental illness.
The father-of-two is a passionate advocate for promoting the need for more research and a greater investment in mental health.
“The more conversation there is about depression and the more it’s out in the open, then the more research can be done, and more lives can be saved,” James says.
“I want to do it for her.”
See James’ interview with Seven News Adelaide and listen to his radio interview with ABC Radio Adelaide here.
The chemical imbalance of a love story
It was a chance encounter when Holly’s dog ran across the road to meet James’ dog early one morning.
“Isn’t it funny how they have a mind of their own?” Holly said to James.
Thinking she was cute, James persistently tried to contact Holly to ask her on a date.
On their second date, Holly and James spoke for several hours until 3am when she told James there was something he needed to know.
“I suffer from depression, you should run away from me now,” she declared.
“Why would I do that,” James instantly replied.
That was in 2001. It soon became clear that it was not only dogs that have a mind of their own.
Four years later, James and Holly were married, followed by the birth of their beautiful children, now 11 and 7 years old.
James is a strong believer in wedding vows and he always stood by Holly in sickness and in health, but the words “Till death do us part” was something that came too soon after Holly succumbed to her mental illness in 2016, aged 42 years.
From the outside, James and Holly were a high flying couple, with successful careers as a jeweller and a florist, a young family and a seemingly healthy future ahead.
But Holly’s mental illness was not well known. After being diagnosed with clinical depression at 21 years of age, very few people understood the battle she faced and it was swept under the carpet, at Holly’s request.
“From the outside you can’t see mental illness, its boundless and it can affect anyone,” James said.
“You can never judge a book by its cover, everyone is touched by mental illness at some stage in their life.”
James said Holly always wanted to be an advocate for mental health but she never had the strength. Now, James is an ambassador for Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation, sharing
his story publicly to honour Holly and to help other people who suffer from mental illness.
James is also promoting the need for more research and a greater investment in mental health.
“Mental health is severely under-funded compared to other countries in the western world and more money is spent on the prevention of road accidents than the prevention of mental illness in Australia, even though more deaths occur from mental illness,” he said.
“There was always a chemical imbalance with Holly and she found it difficult to find her balance. If we were able to understand the imbalance and recognise the warning signs and triggers we could have intervened sooner.
“It’s not like cancer where you can treat it with chemotherapy or radiotherapy and there is no cure for mental illness.”
James still wears his wedding ring and reflects on whether he could have done more to save Holly.
“Holly’s death was life-changing and I am not the same person I was before Holly passed away and it has permanent effects on family, friends and the wider community,” he said wiping away the tears.
“I’m not angry, just disappointed for all of the things Holly and the kids will miss, like birthdays, graduations and weddings.”
Miss Universe Australia 2017
Olivia Molly Rogers
She’s paraded before a television audience of millions with her dazzling smile, but many wouldn’t realise the struggles Miss Universe Australia Olivia Rogers has faced.
The 26 year old, who is also a speech pathologist artist, has been open about her battles with depression and anxiety, as well as her struggles with food.
It’s her willingness to share her own story, and encouragement of others to seek help, which led Olivia to become a supporter for Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation.
Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation funds leading mental health research looking at why mental illness occurs – and importantly, how it can be stopped.
During her reign as Miss Universe Australia 2017, Olivia leant her support to a new Breakthrough funded research project focusing on genetic risk factors in eating disorders by sharing her story with Seven News Adelaide.
“I think a lot of us have that Aussie mentality and tendency to say, ‘I’ll be right’ and we try to fix our problems on our own,” Olivia says.
“However, it is so important to lean on others and there is absolutely no shame in doing so.”