Brent Pope: Normalising the mental health conversation

Brent Pope, 6ft 3″ mountain of a man who played rugby for New Zealand. For years he threw his body into some of the most physical rugby matches. He has the battle scars to prove it and throughout that time became one of the most respected rugby players and minds of a generation and to this day.

To his teammates, friends and family he was jovial, upbeat, a character, a prankster and fun person to be around. But behind the public theatre as a young teenager, Brent was hurting, and anxious. Without anyone to talk to, to open up to he battled anxiety on his own, which eventually led to depression and suicidal thoughts. His only way out was to leave New Zealand and find another place to call home, where no one knew his name.

Brent has taken time out of his schedule to share his story with me, to open up with the goal to help people who are unsure about their mental health, who are fighting to keep up appearances and to encourage everyone to talk. By doing so, you’re creating a path to support, to understanding and to a fuller happier life. 

Brent wants to remove the labels of courage, and bravery when it comes to talking about mental health and make it a normal, welcomed topic of discussion in society. 

He has joined forces with charity The Samaritans and created a campaign known as The elephant in the room. Wherever you see this sculpture it signifies that the organisation you work in, the community you enter welcomes discussion about mental health and encourages you if you’re struggling to share and take a step to help yourself. 

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I am honoured to have a man like Brent open up and share his story with me. He is just a man with a huge heart and a desire to help people in the best way he knows how. 

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