Heath Black tells how he beat off dark times

Heath Black with Mandurah students. Pictures: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d405559
Heath Black with Mandurah students. Pictures: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d405559

The former Fremantle Docker was in town as part of Peel Youth Medical Service’s 10-year anniversary to speak with young people about the damaging affects of alcohol and untreated mental illness.

Black is an engaging speaker who describes his journey to becoming mentally healthy in graphic detail.

His chronic anxiety became a problem when he was drafted number 12 in the 1996 national AFL draft when he was 17.

‘Our challenge was to drink as many beers through a beer bong until we vomited in a bucket,’ he said.

‘You’d be accepted for your drinking attributes at an elite level.’

In 2008, Dockers captain Matthew Pavlich came to Black and said he wasn’t suited to a leadership role in the club and he was dropped.

‘I’m now happy to say that I was the deadwood in the club,’ he said.

At the height of his career, Black would take part in three to four drinking sessions a week to deal with his crippling anxiety.

He made a pact to commit suicide by age 30 and tried to achieve this aim on a series of overseas trips, one night ending with Black holding a gun.

After many doctors’ visits and a combination of medications, Black received his diagnosis and discovered the right cocktail of drugs to keep him stable.

He spoke about his wife Asha and the regret he has that she now suffers with mental illness because of his battle.

Black told a captivated audience of teenagers how important it is for them to get help.

He encouraged the students to contact him via Facebook.