When Dan Hunt played for St George Illawarra in the National Rugby League (NRL), he made an impact every time he took to the field.
It came with the territory of being a front row forward, and Hunt made his presence felt with every hit up in the 150 games he played.
Earlier this year the 29-year-old gave the game away after failing to overcome a serious knee injury, but that hasn’t stopped him from having an effect on those around him.
Hunt is now positively impacting on the lives of individuals dealing with mental health issues.
Having been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in 2012, Hunt’s been there himself.
He said retirement hit him hard earlier this year and there were some “dark times”, but he has come out a “better man” and wants to help others.
“You have got to face those demons and problems head on because there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Hunt told the Illawarra Mercury.
“It is not weak to speak. You have got to put your hand up and ask for help and say that you are struggling. It truly takes a stronger person to do that as opposed to sitting there suffering in silence or wearing that mask every day.
“Once you ask for that help or put your hand up when you are struggling, you can get that help and it makes a massive difference in your life.”
Hunt is actively helping others through his role as an NRL State of Mind ambassador and, closer to home, by supporting the South Coast Private Mount Keira Challenge, which is helping FearLess Outreach.
FearLess Outreach is a support network which helps individuals who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) adjust to life with the condition.
South Coast Private established the Mount Keira Challenge to strengthen its partnership with FearLess Outreach and build on the great work being undertaken by the organisation.
“Fearless want to stress the fact that you don’t have to have been in a war zone to have PTSD,” Hunt said.
“Anyone that goes through a dramatic event in their life can suffer from this, but the good thing is it is a condition that you can totally recover from.”
South Coast Private has an entire floor dedicated to PTSD patients to allow them to communicate and interact with each other in a safe environment.
The floor, which opened earlier this year, helped forge the bond between the hospital and FearLess Outreach.
That bond will grow in strength this weekend (Sunday, November 22) at the Mount Keira Challenge.
The event kicks off with the South Coast Private 5km Fun Run and Walk at 8.45am. Cyclists will then take on a timed 6.5km road hill climb.