NRL Manly Sea Eagles player Joel Thompson was on hand for R U OK? Day in Narrandera late last week to run a day of workshops and resentations for Year 10 students at Narrandera High School.
Mr Thompson also ran workshop, in correlation with Wellways, about mental health and wellbeing for R U OK? Day last Thursday.
“It’s about ways that can help individuals and the community to ensure that people are mentally well, how to take steps to ensure that everyone is well and advise them of the services that are out there,” Mr Thompson explained.
“It’s about providing that sort of education, and sharing my story, and letting people know that it’s okay to ask for help.
“We’re a bit scared, and there’s that stigma. That’s the biggest thing, that’s what’s really killing us; we don’t want to ask for help. It was a good day, I really enjoyed it,” he said.
After Thursday’s workshop, Mr Thompson also had a meet and greet at Bidgee Boxing. Mr Thompson’s workshop with the Year 10 students was a program of his own making called the Mindset Project.
“This program I’ve put together has only been going for about nine months, maybe a little bit longer. It’s what I believe and this is what I’ve been doing this year,” he explained.
“I’ve been getting some really good feedback, so I’ve enjoyed it. It’s for the students to start making the right decisions to create their identity, the identity that they want to live with; where they see themselves down the track.” The Mindset Project is part presentation, part workshopping.
“The reason I’m here is just to share my story. Unfortunately, some will connect with it, with different parts. I’m just showing that you’re going to get setbacks in life, but it’s how you overcome them and move forward and grow from that,” Mr Thompson said.
“It’s about that and giving them the toolbox, different tools and strategies that they can use in their life to start making positive changes to head in the direction they want.” Mr Thompson uses his own experiences to draw from, but also encouraged the students to look beyond their own circumstances.
“Look at gratitude,” Mr Thompson said in his presentation. I wasn’t always grateful for the things that I had in my life. Ask yourself about the things that you are grateful for. Maybe it’s the roof over your head, or having a supportive family – and believe me, there are plenty of people out there who don’t have that.
“I was playing the victim, feeling sorry for myself. But when you take complete responsibility for your life, you change your life. I took charge of my life and I changed my identity.”
“When I die, I’ll go knowing that I’ve been put here for a purpose, I’m here to help people.” Mr Thompson said there were a number of tools he showed the students to help
them take control of their lives.
“We get caught up in the negative aspects of life – I was like that as well. It’s an exercise; 21 days of having gratitude in your life. Another thing is about our support networks; positive coping strategies; different tools of what people you can rely on and what people you can’t. Accepting change.”
“I also do a little thing about setting discipline in your life, like getting up at a certain time. Just different stuff that they can put in their lives – simple stuff, but it can change their life and help them in school and outside of school.”
At the end of the presentation, the students asked Mr Thompson questions. One student put up their hand and asked, “Who is your biggest inspiration?” “My Nan,” Mr Thompson said, without hesitation.
“I remember her going without just so that I could go on school excursions. She still does everything she can to help out family members, even though we all tell her she doesn’t have to. “I hope my daughters turn out just like her,” Mr Thompson said.