Richmond star Brett Deledio has revealed the Tigers’ locker room has been touched by depression and anxiety during his time at the AFL club.
The 29-year-old midfielder said he knew several players who had struggled with the weight of expectation placed upon them at the top level.
“It’s not really a blanket thing, its a very personal individual thing, we’ve had a couple of guys that probably have suffered from it (depression),” Deledio told RSN on Thursday.
“The only thing I can say is that if we do know of them, or we find out, we can support and try and help.”
Deledio said the collective mindset at Richmond currently was relatively positive despite a disappointing season with mounting pressure on much of the list and coaching staff.
“Everything seems to be up in the air at the moment, but the mindset and the mood down there has been pretty good considering all the outside pressures,” Deledio said.
“It is a challenge for our leadership group to make sure we’re all staying on the right path and seeing not just the mistakes, but also the good things we’re doing week to week.”
But the 232-game veteran said he knew players who’d battled crippling anxiety.
“I’ve seen a few teammates over the years before games just constantly throwing up and I never understood and I just thought `oh that’s just nerves and whatever else’,” Deledio said.
“But you ask a few more questions and they are really anxious about what’s going to happen and how they are going to perform.
“Some of these guys were extremely consistent performers but I think every player battles with nerves and little demons. I know I do at times.”
Deledio said he was a very nervous player before he learnt to meditate before games.
“You can let it all go and just know that you’re playing every moment as it comes.”
Deledio dismissed suggestions he had been linked to clubs including North Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney, but said he was getting used to constant media speculation.
The two time All Australian is contracted to Richmond until the end of 2017.
(Australian readers seeking support and information about depression can contact the Depression Helpline (from 8am to midnight) on 0800 111 757.)