One in six New Zealand adults have been diagnosed with a common mental disorder at some time in their lives. This includes depression, bipolar disorders and anxiety disorders. One man committed to supporting those in need is Sir John Kirwan, a former New Zealand All Black rugby union player and professional rugby coach.
The former All Black and 1987 Rugby World Cup winner became a “Sir” in 2012, joining a list that includes other well-known former All Blacks. However, unlike many of his fellow All Blacks, John was recognised as much (if not more) for his contribution outside of rugby, having been for several years at the forefront of campaigns to heighten public awareness of depression, an illness he has personally suffered from at the peak of his rugby playing days.
John’s services to mental health include the introduction of the Sir John Kirwan Foundation, created to deliver mental health awareness for kids, teachers, parents and the wider community, as well as the creation of a new app called Mentemia, full of evidence-based ideas and tools to help users learn how to be well, stay well and cope with the stressors of everyday life.
Tune in this week as I speak with JK about his life experiences with depression and anxiety and suicidal ideation, the stigma surrounding mental health, and learning how to thrive as an “all-black” of mental health and wellbeing.