Providing support pathways and continuing the conversation surrounding mental health hopefully gives troubled youth an outlet to feel positive about themselves, says Lance Picioane.
The former Hawthorn and North Melbourne player says when he started, mental illness was rarely spoken about.
“Mental illness has been a big part of my life since I was 15 years old, went through my whole AFL career living the lie and this is 15-20 years ago where the conversations around mental illness wasn’t talked about,” Picioane told SEN’s The Run Home.
“I thought it was just a 15 year old, overly angry sort of fella that wasn’t understanding how to control his situations.
Picioane, through his organisation Love Me Love You organizes workshops and presentations, particularly at sporting clubs and is aimed at giving 15-30 year old men a support network they can continue to engage with.
“Love Me Love You is based on lived experience, my history of mental illness and substance misuse,” he said.
“The biggest issue is helping them understand to keep them engaged with something that makes them happy.
“It’s understanding about being involved in a community, culture of support and improving yourself.”
He admits after being delisted from North Melbourne the downward spiral became worse, particularly not having the structure playing in the AFL provided.
“I think that structure of life was taken away from me and it’s pretty prevalent today with a lot of guys today that leave footy, the AFL system, the structures and support that are available,” said Picioane.
“You’re told when to be there, when to eat, what to do for a period of time and I lost that.
“Also with that you’re still chasing the high of being an AFL footballer and living that dream and that’s why a lot of guys get lost.”
He says it was a dislocated knee suffered playing at Maribyrnong Park, that helped him realise a change to his lifestyle was needed.
“Five years ago I had a lightbulb moment where I couldn’t get any lower and realised I had to do something out it,” said Picioane.
“It was the conversations I had with my wife that made me say this is not who you are, this is not leading anywhere, why are you doing this?
“We need to get you some help to get through the days, putting that sort of system in place to understand who I was and what I was going to do.”