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Kennelly throws support behind mental health

Tadhg Kennelly (third from left) participated in a charity walk for mental health on Saturday.

Sydney Swans development coach Tadhg Kennelly is “not the best morning person” but braced the pre-dawn cold on Saturday in support of mental health.

The Irishman took part in a coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee called Darkness into Light as the initiative marked its 10th year.

The walk kicked off at 4:30 and proceeds went to Pieta House, which founded Darkness into Light, as well as batyr.

Pieta House is an Ireland-based not-for-profit organisation which supports those who are in danger of suicide, while batyr is an Australian charity which supports the mental health of youth.

Kennelly has participated in Darkness into Light every year since 2015 and said it was a highly worthy cause.

“The stigma attached in this day and age to mental illness is not great,” Kennelly said.

“The more people are able to talk about it and find environments where they are comfortable to discuss the issues they have the better.”

About 400 people took part in the first Darkness into Light, held in Dublin’s Phoenix Park in 2009.

Around 180,000 participated across 11 countries on Saturday and Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane were among more than 150 hosting cities.

Kennelly said mental illness didn’t discriminate.

“You look at our own football Club itself – we’ve got a full-time welfare officer,” Kennelly said.

“The majority of issues he addresses are mental issues like anxiety and depression.

“We’re not bullet-proof just because we’re footballers and the same goes for men and young men.

“There’s still a stigma around mental illness and the more people can talk about it the better.”

Kennelly said he felt compelled to get involved because youth suicide had on a number of occasions rocked his hometown, Listowel in Ireland’s south-west.

Darkness into Light fell on a fitting weekend this year as Sydney and Hawthorn had played for the beyondblue Cup at the MCG on Friday night.

beyondblue is an Australian not-for-profit organisation which works to address depression, anxiety and other mental disorders.

The Swans claimed the Cup in an eight-point come-from-behind win over the Hawks as young gun Ben Ronke starred with seven goals in his third senior game.