Basketball great Lauren Jackson will talk about the tough toll retirement had on her mental health at a forum in Culcairn next week.
The international basketball star and home-grown Albury talent will be among the guest speakers at Billabong High School’s annual mental health forum on March 22.
Jackson announced her retirement from the sport in 2016 after a series of injuries eventually took their toll on her body.
She won three Olympic silver medals and one bronze during her career with the Australian Opals.
She was also named the Most Valuable Player three times in the American WNBA and four times in Australia's WNBL.
Yet Jackson also struggled with depression and took antidepressants during her playing career.
And the first weeks away from the court were “really, really difficult”, she revealed during an interview on the SBS Insight program in 2017.
“When I retired it felt like I was put out to pasture … literally,” she said.
“I’d been one of their greatest resources and … then all of a sudden it was over, you don’t hear from them.”
Jackson said she “went into a shell” and retreated to the sanctuary of her parents’ Albury home.
“I didn’t leave the house, and they really just took care of me,” she said.
“Without them I hate to think what would have happened.”
But Jackson is here to tell the tale of finding happiness and life after retirement including a new role as a mum to her young son Harry.
To hear such well-known people share their “lived experience” of triumphing over tough times is inspiring for students, according to Billabong High School deputy principal Julie Bowen.
She said factors such as physical isolation and lack of access to specialist health services could have an impact on mental health in rural and regional areas.
“We think it is very important to give students the opportunity to hear from people who have been impacted by mental illness, to ask questions and to understand what supports are out there,” Ms Bowen said.
Now in its fourth year, the forum is a collaboration between the school and local health advisory committee.
Former Albury mayor Stuart Baker, co-founder of the Albury-Wodonga Winter Solstice for Survivors of Suicide event, will join this year’s line-up of presenters.