Beyondblue announces Belle Brockhoff as new ambassador
Out Olympic snowboarder Belle Brockhoff shares her own battle with depression as she joins beyondblue as an Ambassador.
Brockhoff was the only openly gay member of the Australian Olympic team and spoke out against Russia’s anti-gay laws.
Beyondblue acting CEO Dr Brian Graetz said Brockhoff has shown she shares beyondblue’s passion for taking a stand against discrimination.
“Homophobia, like any form of discrimination, can cause long-term stress, which can lead to depression and anxiety. Research shows that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people are at least three times more likely to try to take their own lives. LGB Australians are also three times more likely to be currently experiencing depression than their heterosexual peers and are twice as likely to be experiencing anxiety,” he said. “Homophobia is never acceptable, and Belle has shown courage in speaking out in difficult circumstances.”
The 21-year old athlete has spoken up about her battle with depression and says she began self harming at the age of 16. Brockhoff hopes by sharing her story she will inspire others to reach out if they are struggling with depression or anxiety.
“The doctor diagnosed me with depression and referred me to see a psychiatrist, but I refused to do so because I felt that meant there was something wrong with me. I didn’t know then just how common depression was, so I felt like a freak,” she said.
Belle said she hit her lowest point two years later in her lastyear of high school, when she began experiencing increasingly angry outbursts.
“That was when I decided to see a psychologist,” she said. “I saw her a few times and she helped me become more aware of my thoughts that led to particular feelings. In the last two years, I’ve also been working with a sports psychologist who is aware of my condition. Seeking this support has made me feel much better.
“Now when I’m down, I try to surround myself with positive and happy people, or talk to my mum and dad or my sister. I also find going for walks by myself or hanging out with a good friend helps if I’m bummed about a result during competitions.”
Graetz believes Brockhoff’s story is important to break down the stigma that can be associated with depression.
“Belle’s story sends a powerful message, particularly to young LGBTI people, that depression and anxiety are common conditions and having a mental health issue is not a sign of weakness. It takes courage to accept that you need help when you are struggling,” he said.
If you need help, contact beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636 or via www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat or email responses.