Former AFL star Matthew "Spider" Burton believes more can be done to raise awareness about depression and has revealed many teammates struggled with mental illness during a key transitional period of the game in the 1990s.
"Throughout the 90s, the AFL game went from semi-professional to professional and the players who came out...they had no purpose to move on to their next stage of life," Burton said.
"They struggled. There wasn't the amount of education in the community on depression and there wasn't the empathy for our fellow human beings."
The former Dockers vice-captain, renowned for his towering 210cm frame, said things were now much better but 10 years ago people felt they were not allowed to talk about depression or suicide.
Burton is taking part in a gruelling five-day bike ride to raise awareness about youth depression and suicide. The team ride, 700km from Albany to Perth, started yesterday.
A father of four girls, Burton said he was happy to support a charity that focused on youth issues.
The Hawaiian Ride for Youth raises funds for the Youth Focus service. It raised $2 million last year.Youth Focus chief executive Jenny Allen said during the trip riders stopped to talk to students at schools about suicide, depression and self-harm.
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