2019 R U OK? | Former Dunsborough resident Tom Derickx becomes ambassador

Former Dunsborough resident and AFL player Tom Derickx has signed on to become an ambassador for R U OK Day. Image supplied.
Former Dunsborough resident and AFL player Tom Derickx has signed on to become an ambassador for R U OK Day. Image supplied.

Former Dunsborough resident and AFL player Tom Derickx has signed on to become an ambassador for R U OK?

The organisation aims to empower everyone to connect with people around them and start a conversation with anyone who may be struggling with life.

Mr Derickx said he became involved because it encouraged healthy conversations about mental health and tried to get rid of the stigma around depression.

"Especially anxiety and mental health issues for males, the stats are horrendous and I wanted to be involved because I am big on having open and honest conversations," he said.

"I had to talk about challenges I dealt with along the way with depression, I am on top of it now and I am happy to share my story."

Mr Derickx said his mental health issues started around the time he moved away from home and was playing AFL for Richmond.

"I had a lot of injuries which led to me having depression, I struggled with the thought of letting my team mates down because I was injured all the time," he said.

"A lot of it revolved around football and being away from home, back then no-one was really having conversations about it and I did not really know what was going on."

To help get on top of his depression, Mr Derickx talked to friends and sought help from a psychologist and his coach Damien Hardwick.

"My coach really helped me get back on track on and off the field," he said.

"Now I make sure I stay in constant touch with people who have helped me along the way, and friends and family to maintain that conversation and stay on top of it.

"Do not be ashamed to get help, talk and open up to people who are close to you or someone anonymous."

R U OK? have welcomed Mr Derickx's support and hope it will shine a light on the role people play in supporting a loved one or colleague who is showing signs of struggling with life.

R U OK? chief executive officer Katherine Newtown said we were all human and we all go through life's challenges.

"It is okay to acknowledge the fact that those around us will likely need our support at some point." she said.

"We are grateful Mr Derickx is passionate about spreading the R U OK? message - helping us all to start a meaningful conversation with someone we are worried about.

"We need to understand that we won't always be able to fix someone's problems - but we can listen, help guide them towards professional support and find ways to help them manage the load.

"We need to let people know they can speak up, and that support is out there."

R U OK? Day is a national day of action, held on the second Thursday of September each year.

If people are struggling or need help please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24/7 crisis support or the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Beyond Blue with help for anxiety, depression and suicide prevention on 1300 22 4636.