You are worth more
AFL SportsReady graduate Luke McLean is on a mission to raise awareness for mental health and eliminate the negative stigma once and for all.
After a tough and long battle with his own mental well being, Luke was inspired to start a not-for-profit organisation called, I Am Worth More, to help others affected and encourage prevention through mindfulness training.
‘There is still a lot of negativity around mental health and I Am Worth More aims to change that. We want to talk about mental health issues openly and honestly and help others do the same,’ said Luke.
‘We want people to really feel like they are worth more because no one should go through mental health issues alone and get to a point where they feel worthless,’ he added.
Born and raised in Adelaide, Luke grew up around footy and developed an enduring passion for the game.
‘I had one goal and one goal only and that was to play AFL, it was my primary focus and it was all I ever really thought about,’ Luke explained.
‘I became a trainee when I was 17 and was based at Modbury High School as a Sports Coordinator. It was perfect for me because it involved PE and sport and allowed me to continue to focus on my AFL career.’
However, life took a dark turn for Luke and his AFL dreams came to a bitter halt.
‘It was an extremely challenging time, I lost myself to a gambling addiction which triggered a long 10-11 year battle with anxiety and depression.’
‘It was a constant struggle back and forth with work, I was unproductive and unmotivated and I constantly beat myself up for not achieving any of my goals. I felt worthless.’
Hitting his lowest point, Luke decided enough was enough. He acknowledged he had a serious problem and went to seek professional help to guide him in the right direction.
‘Through my healing I learnt about mindfulness and how to implement the practice into my everyday life and gradually I saw my life start to turn around.’
Mindfulness is about being aware and connecting to the present moment, it can be developed through meditation, yoga, journaling and other mindful practices. For Luke, keeping a gratitude journal was one of the ways he began to heal.
‘By journaling I was able to see how much in my life I was really grateful for. Despite the darkness, I came to realise my life had a lot of positives and those positives made me feel like I was worth more than I thought.’
Luke also went out to homeless communities to learn about their hardships and had an encounter with someone who despite enduring a horrific accident was living an optimistic and happy life.
‘By listening to these stories and hearing the challenges other people have faced and how they keep so positive was truly inspiring to me and had a profound impact on my recovery. They all live with a sense of purpose and thanks to them I was eventually able to reignite my own.’
Through mindfulness, gratitude, perseverance and the right support Luke turned his life around and now he is helping others to do the same.
‘Mental health needs to be discussed more often among friends, family, and colleagues. The more we openly talk about it, the more chance we have in reducing the negative stigma which could, in turn, save many lives. That’s why I started this organisation.’
I Am Worth More, travels around the country presenting to schools, businesses and sporting clubs where Luke shares his journey and the steps he took to help his recovery.
‘Through our donations, we give out t-shirts to really create a sense of community and a gratitude journal to start the journey.’
‘I want people to understand that through dark times there is always hope, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m living proof of that. Nobody should ever feel worthless, everyone is worth more.’
If you would like to donate to I Am Worth More please visit https://chuffed.org/project/lets-improve-mental-health.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health there is always support out there.
You can get in touch with Headspace at https://headspace.org.au/ or you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
DATE: 24th of August 2018
AUTHOR: Marissa Pagliarello
IMAGE: Luke McLean presenting