Schwass’s mental health message every man should hear


NORTH Melbourne premiership hero Wayne Schwass lost a friend and former radio colleague when Danny Frawley died.

But he had a much bigger message when he spoke at Frawley's funeral on Wednesday.

Frawley had recently opened up about his mental health struggles and joined Schwass as an advocate on the issue through his organisation Puka Up.

Schwass said Frawley's most powerful legacy was his message to men that they could speak about their problems.

"Daniel Patrick Frawley, aka Spud, was known and respected for the courage he displayed on the football field, but courage comes in many forms," Schwass said.


"It was his courage to fight his own mental health conditions, using those experiences to share his own journey in the hope of removing stigma and encouraging others going through similar experiences to ask for help, that I admired most.

"Even in his darkest days in recent weeks, he was still championing his message, that no man should ever walk alone. That's courage. That's strength, That's selflessness from the ultimate team man, and teammate."



Schwass said the message passed down to men through generations "teaches us from a very early age that to be a real man you have to be tough, you don't cry, talk or show your emotions.

"These messages are damaging and destructive, and in my opinion are contributing to a growing number of males, from young boys to older men across our great country, who are in pain, hurting and perhaps paralysed by the suffocating fear of being judged.

"Some of us choose to stay silent because of fear - the fear of losing everything, even if that means it's at the expense of your own health and wellbeing.

"It's time to challenge the old way.

Wayne Schwass (left) launches his Puka Up ride with fellow footy greats Scott Cummings, Paul Licuria, Justin Koschitzke and Danny Frawley. Picture: Eugene Hyland
Wayne Schwass (left) launches his Puka Up ride with fellow footy greats Scott Cummings, Paul Licuria, Justin Koschitzke and Danny Frawley. Picture: Eugene Hyland

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To quote Danny: 'Manning up in the past was to suffer in silence, manning up now is to put your hand up.

"Fellas, it's OK to be in pain, it's OK to hurt, it's OK to be sad. But it's no longer OK to suffer in silence.

"It's never been more important for our boys - the next generation of men, husbands, fathers, uncles, brothers, coaches, teachers, leaders and future role models - to be allowed, encouraged and supported to be emotionally connected and expressive. to be vulnerable, and empowered to cry without fear or judgment."

Schwass said he almost made the same mistake as Frawley in thinking his mental health issues were "fixed".

"But that implies that I was broken and needed fixing. I'm not broken and I don't need fixing. I'm on a 20-year mental health journey that will continue for the rest of my life, and I'm comfortable with that," he said.

"To anyone here today who has, or who is living with a mental health condition ... please don't compromise your mental health. Please put your wellbeing first, please eliminate the things that don't help you, please start investing in things that are good for you and your mental health.

"Please, please, please follow the advice of your GP and your clinicians, invest the time into your recovery and even when you think you've recovered, please keep working."

He fought back tears with a final message to his lost mate: "We may have lost this battle, Spud, but my promise to you, Anita and your three beautiful girls is we won't lose the war."


If you or someone you love is in crisis or needs support right now, help is available. Please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. MensLine Australia is a telephone and online counselling service for men with family and relationship concerns. Phone 1300 78 99 78