James Packer has withdrawn from Company Boards and Businesses in which he has substantial investments and in doing so, has said he is taking a break to address mental illness.
He could easily have taken the break giving any number of reasons. It could have been something as simple as general health rectification and it would have been plausible given he does not look particularly healthy.
For all his wealth, he was raised in a very “blokey” environment. His Father and Grandfather were notorious “hard men”, intolerant of failure and unable to display anything that could be perceived as a weakness.
We have various examples of high profile sports, media and entertainment industry people being open and speaking publicly about their battles with mental illness, however this is the first time I can recall a powerful, high profile businessperson doing the same thing.
There is still a long way to go.
James Packer and the many sports and other people before him who have been open about the reasons they are withdrawing from public life have all been hailed for their courage in doing so.
If James Packer was taking a break in order to undergo treatment for diabetics, heart disease or cancer, we would not be commenting about his courage. We would be empathetic and sympathetic. We may even credit his common sense for concentrating on his health.
We will have made real progress in the treatment of mental health issues when we view such revelations as being normal, rather than courageous to talk about.
When we reach this stage, we will have achieved something significant.
Until then, after you have raised your glass to James Packer, raise another for organisations like Beyond Blue and then another for all the dedicated health professionals treating Mental and other ailments.
Perhaps best to make sure the contents of the glass is nothing more potent than soda water, at least for raises two and three.