Swans coach urges men to speak up

Sydney Swans coach John Longmire has urged all men with mental health issues to follow Lance Franklin’s lead and speak up.

Longmire says Franklin’s public battle has been an eye opener and hopes other sufferers no longer bottle their emotions.

“There’s lots of people walking around with different mental challenges that don’t have to have a press conference,” he said after Franklin returned to Swans training on Tuesday.

“It’s a really personal issue and what I do know is that I’m still learning about it as well.”

According to medical statistics, one in five people every year endure a mental health issue and Longmire suspects the AFL’s highest-paid player grappled with his demons “for a number of years” before revealing his struggles on the eve of the AFL finals in September.

“I don’t think it’s unusual for men,” the coach said.

“Unfortunately – and I’m probably guilty of it too – men probably don’t sit around and talk about what you’re feeling as much as they probably should.

“It’s an important part of growing and learning beyond football.

“He’s certainly been made aware of that over the previous few months and he feels more comfortable doing that and that’s a good sign.

“That’ll be ongoing.”

Longmire knows Franklin has a long way to go, but says the 28-year-old’s call for help was not only a big step forward but also a brave one.

“You need to be able to talk to people about it and that’s what we feel really positive about at the moment, that he’s been able to talk about it, talk about it with coaches and players,” Longmire said.

“That’s been a really important first step. We know there’s a few more steps to go yet, but that’ll come, and I’m sure he’ll get to that point where he’s able to discuss it publicly at some down the track.

“But one step at a time.”

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