Ian Thorpe reaches out for mental health

Sarah Wiedersehn
(Australian Associated Press)


Ian Thorpe may battle depression, but he’s refused to let it control him.

Much like his swimming career, the 34-year-old has developed a winning strategy to overcome his mental health issues.

“There’s been times when I really struggled with my mental health. I’d heard from people that depression was treatable and at the time I just didn’t believe them because I didn’t feel as though I could get through it,” Thorpe said.

Now “on the other side” of depression, Thorpe is using his experience to help young Australians take charge of their mental wellbeing as the patron of the revamped ReachOut website.

The digital resource is now mobile friendly, meaning young people don’t have to use a desktop. All information is available in the palm of their hand.

There is also a new parent section, launched on Wednesday, that allows concerned carers to get access to evidenced-based information.

ReachOut.com bypasses the usual barriers, such as psychologist waiting times, cost, transport and stigma, providing young people with anonymous support and guidance without the need for a Medicare card.

Thorpe is Australia’s most decorated Olympian, with five gold medals at the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Games.

He was admitted to a rehabilitation facility for depression in 2014, and last year revealed he has battled mental health issues since his teenage years.

With many adolescents reluctant to seek help, Thorpe says what’s great about ReachOut.com is that it provides practical strategies to prevent “everyday” issues from becoming something bigger.

“There are some exercises you can do that will actually help de-clutter your mind so that you can actually just be at your best and not have those feelings anymore,” Thorpe said.

“Even for people who may know someone who’s going through some type of mental health issue it can also help them to help that person. This is something that is really accessible for everyone,” he said.

For Thorpe, it helps to simply acknowledging that he may just be having a “tough day”.

“I cut myself some slack from time to time, but I also try and place an end date on it,” he said.

Even if the former swimming champ-turned sports commentator doesn’t feel like getting off the couch and being social he’s going to anyway.

“Because I know for my long-term mental health that’s the right thing for me to do,” he said.


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