Combating the Blues

Determined to combat the blues, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs joined forces with community partner beyondblue in a week long community road show to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems. We met some amazing people along the way including Allan Sparkes who shares his inspiring journey in an exclusive interview with Bulldogs TV in Mackay.


With the passing of two up and coming rugby league stars earlier this season and many more unreported incidents in our community, mental health has become a very topical issue in 2013; making the Clubs partnership with beyondblue and the Clubs fourth annual clash for the beyondblue Cup versus the Newcastle Knights on July 7, more important than ever.


CEO Kate Carnell AO said the road show was a great opportunity for beyondblue to reach Rugby League fans and the wider community.In Australia one in eight men are likely to experience depression in their lifetime, and one in five men are likely to experience anxiety. These rates are lower than women, but Australian men are more than three times more likely to die by suicide than women, with at least 1727 men dying from suicide in 2011.


It is a real issue that affects everyone.


To kick start the week with an NRL first, the Bulldogs hosted the inaugural beyondblue Community Forum on Tuesday, July 2 at Canterbury League Club. The build up to the forum saw a number of our inspiring supporters submit their own personal blogs which featured on the Clubs website and saw them describing how their passion for the Bulldogs has assisted their mental health and issues they face on a daily basis.


In what was a ground breaking evening in Australian sport; the inaugural Community Forum was an entertaining and informative night featuring panel of five including, Bulldogs CEO Todd Greenberg, head coach Des Hasler, Bulldogs Councilor Athina Shelston, Bulldogs Mind Manager John Novak, and Special guest and lead singer of the Choir Boys Mark Gable. A born entertainer, Mark Gable had the room captivated as he spoke of his personal demons and battle with mental illness.


The Bulldogs extend our thanks to Dr Michael Bonning for his MC efforts on the evening which were enjoyed by more than 100 people, including ten local provider organisations. It is a very worthwhile evening for all supporters to attend, when it returns in 2014.


The very next day the road show headed to Mackay, spreading beyondblues messages to our friends north of the border, with Bulldogs Club Ambassadors Steve Turner and Terry Lamb leading the charge.


In the four days leading up to the fourth annual beyondblue Cup game day, Terry and Zap ensured activities for everyone were delivered to the community of Mackay, including a second beyondblue Community Forum, a visit to the Mackay Base Hospital, leading two National Workplace Sessions at the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, hosting a school holiday clinic with 200 youngsters and spending time at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service.


A big thank you to our panellists for the second Community Forum including beyondblue ambassador and Sports broadcaster Craig Hamilton who shared his personal story with attendees, Mackay Cutters President Glenn Ottaway, Newcastle Knights Football Manager Warren Smiles and beyondblue program youth manager Rebecca Rennie who joined Zap and Terry on the night.


A full wrap from Zaps Mackay Diaries can be seen on the Bulldogs website.


ALLAN SPARKES: THE COST OF BRAVERY


Along the way we met Allan. A truly amazing individual with an inspiring story to tell, Bulldogs TV caught up with Allan on game day at Virgin Australia Stadium. One of only five people to be awarded Australia's highest decoration for bravery, the Cross of Valour, Allans life took a tumble no-one saw coming.


Here was a man with many professional accolades, who had thrived on never knowing what his next call would involve murder, bombings, junkies and robberies were often part of a day's work for this detective, yet he suddenly lost his 20-year career and all sense of self-worth.


Allan's recovery from debilitating mental illness was a roller-coaster ride of personal challenges that tested his courage and resolve over more than a decade. With the unwavering support of his wife, he faced his demons and rebuilt his mind, body and soul. Today, Allan is back to being his adventurous self, prepared to face whatever comes his way.


Read more about Allan's amazing story HERE