The moment Sarah Coyte decided to speak out about her struggles with mental illness her battle got a little bit easier.
The acclaimed cricketer and Spring Farm resident has joined a number of prominent Aussie figures sharing their own mental health stories in light of recent figures revealing 81 per cent of Australians believe more mental illness awareness is needed.
Ms Coyte has been battling an eating disorder, known as anorexia nervosa, for about 10 years.
For most of that time she was reluctant to talk about her condition or even admit to herself that she had a problem.
But today Ms Coyte attended a Wesley Hospital mental health event with personalities like Masterchef 2018 contestant Hoda Kobeissi, Survivor 2016 contestant Sam Webb, Olympic gold medallist Emma Tonegato and several rugby union players, to invite other Sydneysiders to “address the elephant in the room” and share their mental health stories.
“Allowing myself to receive help was one of the best things I ever did,” the all-rounder said.
“I finally opened up about my anorexia struggles in about 2012 or 2013 – people sort of knew about it already but I’d never addressed it.
“Opening up made such a difference – I used to be very anti-social and would always come up with excuses not to leave the house.
“But now I’m more confident and I’m able to be more social.”
The former Campbelltown-Camden Ghosts player said being open about her anorexia battle had emboldened her to speak with other people about their own struggles.
“I’ve had people come to me and share concerns they have about other people who they think are going through the same things I have,” she said.
“I’ve also had a good reaction to some of my blog posts about anorexia and mental health.
“It has opened my eyes in ways I never expected.”
Ms Coyte said her anorexia never affected her on the cricket pitch, but did increase fatigue and the time it took her to heal from injuries.
She said she had received nothing but support since speaking out and wants other people to know help is out there.
“I’m speaking out to let everyone know that it’s okay not to be okay,” the NSW and Australian representative said.
Ms Coyte works with not-for-profit organisation Olympus Solutions, which helps people with mental health issues to become job ready.
Wesley Hospital representative Adam Goss said 45 per cent of Australians “will experience a common mental health disorder at some point in our lives”.
“We’re encouraging Australians to talk more openly about the elephant in the room and continue to remove the stigma that’s still here surrounding mental illness,” he said.
“Mental illness is a public issue and the point we’re trying to make is that it shouldn’t be hidden away.”