Wayne Schwass has vowed to continue St Kilda legend Danny Frawley’s fight against mental health issues.
The North Melbourne and Sydney champion made the pledge to Frawley in a raw, powerful and passionate eulogy delivered at the St Kilda legend’s funeral service at Kingston Town Hall on Wednesday.
His voice quivering with grief, Schwass – who has fought his own public battle with mental illness – paid tribute to Frawley, who spoke out about his issues with depression in recent years.
“I’m so proud of you, Spud. I’m proud of how hard you fought,” Schwass said.
“I’m proud of how hard you worked to overcome these insidious conditions the first time around.
“And I’m incredibly proud of you for helping countless others.
“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.”
Frawley died in a single-car collision with a tree near Ballarat on Monday, September 9 – the day after his 56th birthday.
In a statement released this week, his wife Anita revealed Frawley, believing he had defeated his mental demons, withdrew from psychological care and stopped taking medication eight months ago.
Schwass, the founder of mental health awareness social enterprise PukaUp, has felt the same in the past but also described himself as being on a 26-year mental health journey that will continue for the rest of his life.
The 1996 North Melbourne premiership player suffered in silence for years as he stuck to the traditional ideals of manhood that demanded he remain stoic, tough and unemotional.
He implored men to disregard such damaging beliefs and urged anyone suffering mental health issues to seek professional help and adhere to the advice given.
“It’s time to challenge the old way… it’s a narrative that no longer serves us,” he said.
“It’s not about blame or shame. It’s about responsibility and opportunity.
“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 time for a new narrative.”