NRL star’s courageous message for fans

Johnson made a courageous social media post over the weekend. Image: Twitter/Getty

Incoming Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson has opened up on his mental health struggles and is encouraging NRL fans to do the same.

Johnson, who joins his former side from the Sharks in 2022, said he had been using the off-season to have tough conversations around his mental wellbeing.

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“I’ve been doing a lot of speaking lately. Talking/venting to people I trust and feel comfortable with,” Johnson explained on Twitter.

“What I’m feeling can be solved and so can what you’re feeling. I’m not alone and neither are you.”

Johnson was quick to point out that suicide remains the biggest killer of young people in Australia.

“76% of suicides are by men, with suicide being the biggest cause of death for men under 35,” the Kiwi international wrote.

“Yet men are less likely to speak out or access psychological therapies than woman (sic).

“We need to break the stigma and end the silence.

“Do not man up, it’s time to talk.”

Johnson is encouraging fans to speak up. Digital image by Ryan Mckinnon/NRL Photos
Johnson is encouraging fans to speak up. Digital image by Ryan Mckinnon/NRL Photos

Johnson has long been an exponent of opening up about mental health — he worked closely with Cronulla’s performance, leadership and mindset coach Dan Haesler to improve the mental side of his game during his time in the Shire.

The 31-year-old has now left the Sharks to link up with the Warriors, with whom he began his NRL career in 2011.

He’s preparing to say goodbye to his family, whom he won’t see until next year, to join the Warriors for their pre-season this month.

The Warriors looked desperate for an experienced game manager this season and while they may have found one in Johnson, it remains to be seen who will partner the veteran in the halves next season.

Nathan Brown’s side has picked ex-Titan Ash Taylor up on the cheap but also have Chanel Harris-Tavita and Kodi Nikorima vying for the role of Johnson’s co-pilot.

Sean O’Sullivan won’t be competing for that spot, having inked a deal with the Penrith Panthers for the 2022 season this week.

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