'Joey' chokes back tears during shock school visit
STUDENTS and staff at South Grafton High School went into shock on Monday as the eighth rugby league Immortal, Andrew "Joey" Johns paid a visit to the school.
Mr Johns' visit came after a chance encounter with Abcare executive officer Greg Bennett on a flight to Melbourne for Game One of this year's State of Origin series.
Mr Bennett happened to be seated next to Mr Johns and after chatting about Mr Bennett's work, the former NSW Origin great offered to visit South Grafton High to tell his story of growing up with a mental health condition.
Mr Johns described the encounter as "a sign", saying he believed being seated next to Mr Bennett was meant to happen, to allow him to tell his story and hopefully inspire young people going through their own battle.
Mr Johns spoke of his much publicised battle with bi-polar disorder and depression, telling stories of his childhood and time playing for the Newcastle Knights.
He had a clear message for the students - don't be afraid to seek help.
"Not only were many students bought to tears, but Joey himself teared up talking about, and obviously reliving, his journey with mental health," South Grafton High School teacher, Mr Nathan Martin, said.
If you or someone you know is struggling, there is help available:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Beyondblue Support Service 1300 224 436
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800