Build “a village” around you, was the message from cricketer Steve Smith when he spoke to over 1000 students from Baulkham Hills High last week.
In a frank conversation at the special assembly he spoke about mental health, his problems with anxiety and the importance of having people you can talk to during tough times.
The Australian batsman has spoken to over 20 schools since he started volunteering with the Gotcha4Life Foundation to talk about men’s mental health and building resilience, Baulkham Hills High was his first talk since his stunning Ashes campaign.
Smith, now officially the best batsman in the world, and Triple M broadcaster, Gus Worland who founded Gotcha4Life were introduced by Police Minister David Elliott who said: “Steve Smith has the ultimate story of resilience.”
Smith told the audience: “I am in a good place now … I love what I do and I love playing cricket.”
It was a long way from the heart-broken Steve Smith following the dramas during the Test in South Africa.
“I went through a pretty tough time about 18 months ago not being able to do what I love and play cricket for Australia but it got me involved in other opportunities and Gotcha4Life and talking to schools about mental health and mental fitness,” he said.
“Gus told me the statistics of suicide in Australia: 6 men and 2 women a day out of 25 million people and I thought that was simply unacceptable… I wanted to get involved and try and make a difference,” he said
“We have got to get those numbers down. When you are going through difficult times and it seems things are going to get any better, I promise you (that) you will get through it if you are prepared to talk about it.
“In life, you need that group of people you can have that open and honest conversation with.”
“It’s outdated to think you can just deal it with yourself.Ihave a close group of people around me who I can talk to.
“It’s not the end of the world if things don’t go to plan. There is so much more to life. …Things get better, things get easier.”
He said he had changed because of his break from cricket, through his volunteering but also having other outlets from cricket such as learning to play guitar to relax.
Gotcah4Life is a not for profit foundation established to reverse the tide of declining mental health to reduce suicide