Former AFL player Tom Boyd to speak at 2023 MENtal Brekky

October 12, 2023

Former AFL player and mental health advocate Tom Boyd will headline this month’s Chris Yeung Fund MENtal Brekky.

Presented by GJ Gardner Homes and supported by St Patrick’s College, the 2023 MENtal Brekky will be held at the OCA Pavilion on Friday 20 October from 7am-8.30am.

Boyd will share his personal journey from being the AFL’s number one draft pick in 2013 to a Western Bulldogs premiership player in 2016 and walking away from the game – and a multi-million-dollar contract – in 2019.

Boyd said he was looking forward to visiting Ballarat to help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and raise awareness of support services available.

“We all know someone who’s struggling with this, we all know someone who has lost someone, we understand that it’s a massive problem and particularly in the regional parts of Victoria there is a huge challenge around getting the right support at the right time,” he said.

Boyd, who experienced insomnia, anxiety and depression during his highly successful AFL career, said mental illness was non-discriminatory.

“We wake up with our own problems every single day, no matter how much money we earn, no matter how many goals we’ve kicked on grand final day or how much fame or success we’ve had at any stage of our life,” he said.

“I think a lot of the success that I had really was one of the key reasons why I didn’t feel like I could get support because you didn’t want to feel like you were being petulant or whingey given how good your life is.”

Chris Yeung Fund chair Simon Dwyer said it was crucial that conversations about men’s mental health continued within the community.

“Ballarat’s suicide rates among men, especially those over 40, are still above the nation’s average and loneliness for men aged in their 30s and 40s accounts for over 40 per cent of mental health issues for men,” he said.

Mr Dwyer said he was delighted that Boyd was headlining the 2023 MENtal Brekky, now in its seventh year.

“We’re excited by what Tom Boyd will bring to this year’s Brekky. He is a very engaging speaker with a strong message for young men and their mental health,” he said.

Established in 2016, the Chris Yeung Fund aims to raise awareness of and provide financial assistance for families in the St Patrick’s College community where the father is suffering mental illness.

To date, the fund has provided fee relief for more than 20 students, ensuring they can remain enrolled at the College despite their financial hardship brought about by illness.

Chris Yeung was a Ballarat boy who attended St Patrick’s College, completing Year 12 in 1981. In his 20s, Chris developed a mental illness which manifested in periods of acute psychosis.

Chris battled his illness for decades but in 2015 he took his own life. Despite his illness, Chris was a qualified accountant and business owner, and much-loved son, father, partner, and brother.