WAYNE Schwass knows the highs and lows of the limelight and he knows the good and bad of the AFL industry.
He has a story to tell and a health message to share with the men of Bendigo next week.
As part of Bendigo Community Health Services' Men's Health Week, Mr Schwass will share his story of change and hope.
Mr Schwass played with the North Melbourne Football Club and the Sydney Swans for 14 years.
In 2006, Mr Schwass announced to the public he was dealing with depression.
Since then, he has turned his feelings of negativity into motivation for others.
He is passionate about spreading a message of good physical and mental health.
Mr Schwass said after living with depression for 10 years he understood the impact the illness could have.
He now dedicates his life to telling people how to be more in control of their life and health.
"Mental illness is an issue that needs to be talked about," he said.
"It affects everyone in the community.
"Unfortunately, we don't support them in the same way as we do other medical conditions."
People need to stop judging and labelling people with mental illness.Wayne Schwass
Mr Schwass said it was important mental health was discussed more openly.
He said it was important to acknowledge emotional health and well-being.
"If we are physically feeling unwell we go to the doctors," he said.
"If we are feeling unwell emotionally, that is another reason to go to the doctor.
"People are notoriously poor at looking after our health and well-being."
Mr Schwass said people needed to be more supportive of each other.
"People need to stop judging and labelling people with mental illness," he said.
"We don't do it with other medical conditions."
Mr Schwass said there was also an issue with people self-medicating.
"Human beings tend to deal with things through drugs or alcohol," he said.
"We need to tackle them head on because we all need to learn to enjoy life."
Mr Schwass said it wanted to increase people's awareness and knowledge of mental illness.
Mr Schwass dedicates his time to presenting his story around the country.
He will speak at the men's health evening on Thursday, September 4 at The Capital theatre.
For more information or to buy tickets, call Bendigo Community Health Services on 5448 1600.