Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Seeking out a Psychologist Was My Best Career Move; State of Mind Program Is an Initiative Close to Star's Heart

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Seeking out a Psychologist Was My Best Career Move; State of Mind Program Is an Initiative Close to Star's Heart

Article excerpt

Byline: Callum Dick Callum.Dick@dailymercury.com.au

EIGHT times a State of Origin representative, 215 NRL games and 14 caps for Australia.

David Shillington scaled the heights of professional rugby league over a 12-year career.

He believes seeking the help of a sports psychologist is a big reason why.

Shillington is a spokesman for the NRL State of Mind Grassroots program that aims to reduce stigma around mental health, increase mental health literacy and stimulate help-seeking behaviours within clubs and the wider community.

The 35 year old was in Mackay yesterday to recognise Souths Sharks' involvement in State of Mind - a program close to his heart.

When Shillington entered the NRL system in 2001, he said the stigma around mental health made it almost impossible to be open and honest about personal issues.

"If you talked about your emotional well-being in the dressing rooms you probably would have been tapped on the shoulder and told, 'Listen mate this is a man's game, maybe try a different profession'.

"When I retired in 2017 it was a much more supportive environment."

Shillington sought out a sports psychologist to help him process the incredible emotional highs and lows that came with being an NRL player.

"You're on top of the world one week and the next week you've got a busted ACL or you have had a shocker and it feels like everyone is against you," Shillington said.

"It's a tough environment to be in. I sought professional help to deal with that and I believe it's one of the best investments I've made in myself.

"I credit getting that support for the heights and longevity I had in the game. If I didn't do that, my career might have been a whole lot different."

Since his retirement, Shillington has pounded the pavement as part of the NRL Community Team to deliver programs like State of Mind to rural and regional rugby league clubs. …

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