Beating depression: an audience with Ian Thorpe


When news broke in 2014 that Ian Thorpe was receiving medical treatment for depression, the media spotlight was well and truly trained on the effects of this debilitating condition. Through Total’s work with Mates in Construction, we also know just how prevalent depression is in our industry. In fact, 190 construction workers take their own lives, every year. In direct response to this extremely concerning statistic, our CEO, Jeff Jones, is committed to learning more about how we, as an organisation, can help change things for the better. So, when he learned that Thorpie was to speak at a recent function sponsored by Procore Technologies and Mates in Construction, he felt incredibly honoured to be invited.

The function, held in conjunction with NSW Mental Health Month, was entitled ‘A constructive conversation about mental health’. The session began with a very open account from Milton Walters, Procore’s Vice President of Marketing APAC, about his own experiences fighting depression. Shortly after, Thorpie took the floor.

“Ian Thorpe demonstrated that not only is he a sporting legend but an Australian icon in so many ways,” says Jeff. “What really resonated with me was the simplicity of asking two questions of anyone you care about. The first is, ‘Are you okay?’ and the second, ‘What can I do to help?’. It’s really all about starting a conversation. Choosing the right time and place to ask the questions is also crucial, and it helps to mention specific things that have made you concerned for them. If they want to open up to you, that’s when you ask them how you can help, how they would like you to support them. On the other hand, if they don’t want to talk, just say something like, ‘Let me know if you ever want to chat’.”

If you or a colleague needs help, let us know. We’ve got your back.

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