Former Hockeyroo Ashleigh Nelson opens up about mental health struggles at zero2hero forum

Mt Lawley SHS students Cooper Staines (y11), hockey player Ashleigh Nelson, Ronan McEwan (y11) and Isabella Prefumo (y11). Hockey player Ashleigh Nelson will be speaking at the In Your Head Youth Mental Health Forum. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Mt Lawley SHS students Cooper Staines (y11), hockey player Ashleigh Nelson, Ronan McEwan (y11) and Isabella Prefumo (y11). Hockey player Ashleigh Nelson will be speaking at the In Your Head Youth Mental Health Forum. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

FORMER Hockeyroo Ashleigh Nelson will share how being judged as an elite sportswoman took its toll at the zero2hero In Your Head forum in front of more than 600 people, including students from Mt Lawley Senior High School, this month.

Nelson said she had a difficult time playing professional sport when she was so young.

“I probably wasn’t physically or psychologically ready for being in that environment,” Nelson said.

“When you are in an environment where you have to get feedback on a regular basis regarding your performance, I would take it quite personally and it wasn’t just affecting me on the field, it was affecting me off the field too and I sort of withdrew.”

The former Hockeyroo said she didn’t know what to do with the emotions she was going through.

“There’s this expectation from society that ‘you’re in the Australian hockey team, you’re an elite athlete, you should be loving life, you play sport for a living’ but it’s just not the case sometimes,” she said.

Nelson said it was her mum who noticed something wasn’t right.

“I think that’s why I got involved with R U OK because she literally asked that question and I just burst into tears and said, you know what, I’m not,” the hockey player said.

Nelson said she met the zero2hero founder Ashlee Harrison through her work as an ambassador for R U OK Day.

Young Australian of the Year 2013 Akram Azimi and motivational speaker and musician Paris Mitchell are also keynote speakers at the conference.

Session topics include overcoming adversity, healthy food choices, LGBTIQ, exam stress and anxiety and social media.

The conference is on Thursday, August 30 at the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre.

Register at zero2hero.com.au.