General Discussion Depression & Mental Health Thread

Discussion in 'NRL Discussion' started by BiggerD, Oct 29, 2016.



  1. BiggerD
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    BiggerD 1st Grade Fringe

    *Mod - Thread changed from 'Paul Whatuira (ex Warrior), talks about Mental Heath' to current name.

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    Ex Warrior Paul Whatuira opens up about depression and mental health.
    In a very important subject that can affect anyone.
    He is now Player Welfare officer for the Tigers. But as you read the article you
    will realise that Paul went thru tough times with his mental health while playing in England.


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    Paul Whatuira opens up on depression, mental health to help young NRL players
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    FATIMA KDOUH, News Corp Australia Network
    October 28, 2016 10:05pm Media has been hidden. Please Register to view.
    THE voices inside Paul Whatuira’s head were telling him to kill his partner and their unborn child.

    “And then all hell broke loose,” recalls the two-time NRL premiership winner and former Kiwi Test star.

    The very raw and real story of Whatuira’s downward spiral into depression and the psychotic episode which almost cost him his life is one he now wants every young rugby league player to hear.

    Whatuira, now a fulltime welfare officer at the Wests Tigers, who themselves have been touched by suicide, knows his story can save lives.

    WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW with Paul Whatuira in the video player above
    Daily Telegraph link


    The rugby league world only found out about Whatuira’s battle with mental illness after the former Panthers and Wests Tigers star had packed up his life in Australia and moved to England in to play for Super League side Huddersfield in 2008.

    He was happy, he had proposed to his ex-partner Vanessa and he was ready to take on the challenge of playing rugby league in a new country.

    But then Whatuira found out he was going to be a father and his life as he knew it crumbled.

    The news brought up suppressed memories of his sexual assault as a six-year-old and of his troubled childhood, surrounded by alcohol and drug abuse and domestic violence.

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    Paul Whatuira, with his daughter Gabrielle, has come a long way since his darkest hour
    “When I left my family and friends and moved to England and at the time I was happy and just proposed to my fiancee at the time Vanessa,” Whatuira said.

    “Expecting to be a father triggered memories of my childhood and upbringing, being surrounded by alcohol and drugs and unfortunately at the age of six being sexually assaulted.”

    Whatuira started reliving the abuse and with each day he would fall deeper into a depression that threatened to end in tragedy on more than one occasion.

    The harder the 199-game veteran tried to bury the demons of his childhood, the darker his life became.

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    Paul Whatuira during his Wests Tigers days.
    Eventually he started hearing voices. He had become psychotic.

    The voices were telling him to kill his partner and unborn child. He was so worried the voices would overpower him, he checked himself into a psychiatric hospital.

    “I was away from my family in Australia and New Zealand and it was a bit of downward spiral from there,” Whatuira said.

    “For about three to four months I suffered from depression and replaying the episodes that happened in my childhood.

    “That’s when I slipped into psychosis and went seven days without any sleep and that’s when the real ... hearing voices and those voices on the seventh day were telling me to hurt my partner and unborn child.

    “And then all hell broke loose.”

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    Paul Whatuira experienced a downward spiral once he moved to England.
    Finally reaching breaking point, Whatuira was looking for a way to “put himself out of his misery”.

    He describes what happened next and his actions as that of a “mad man”.

    “I went to the hospital and checked myself in and I was put in a room ... and I was lying in that room the voices became stronger,” he said.

    “I broke out of the hospital threatening the nurse at 3am like a mad man ... I ran through the streets of Huddersfield trying to find ways to put myself out of this misery ... I was looking for moving cars to put myself in front of

    “But unfortunately I came across two young men going to work to provide for their family and the voices became stronger and they told me to hit them which I did, unfortunately knocking one person out cold.

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    Whatuira won two premierships in three years in a glittering NRL career.
    “I was in so much rage and anger, I was tasered by the police, thrown into a jail cell and locked up.

    “Once the police knew who I was, when they locked me up and saw the state I was in, I was mentally unwell and that’s when I was taken to the psychiatric hospital.

    ”That’s where they induced me with some heavy drugs and after seven days of no sleep and hearing voices and being scared, that’s when I finally got some rest and I was locked up for four weeks in a psychiatric hospital.”

    Ultimately his recovery from the depths of despair would cost him his rugby league career.

    “Nathan Brown [then coach at Huddersfield], who is Knights coach now, he was very supportive and helped me throughout that terrible ordeal that I went through and my family,” Whatuira said.

    “But at that time of my life it was 2009, I was very ill suffering from paranoia, anxiety issues and depression.

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    Whatuira’s story is a powerful one.
    “I couldn’t function properly being so heavily medicated, I lived my days in drowsiness and that’s why I couldn’t train and couldn’t play at the highest level and that’s why I had to retire.”

    Whatuira may have lost his career as a result of his mental health issues but this isn’t a sad story.

    The former Kiwi international is now thriving and has risen from the hell which engulfed his life during his playing career.

    As well as his role at Wests Tigers, Whatuira has started his running his public speaking business.

    Whatuira knows his story can give those that might be suffering in silence some hope.

    “It’s a game on the rise and I take it when I debuted in 2000 with the Warriors there was no help in the wellbeing space and there was no one to actually talk to about your problems off the field so I think they have taken great steps and I think that’s something I’m proud to be a part of,” Whatuira said.

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    The former Kiwi Test star is now the welfare officer for the Tigers.
    “It’s a role [working as a welfare officer] I value a lot, I guess walking in the shoes of these young men today I understand what they go through, emotionally, physically and how demanding our sport is.

    “And yes it is a privilege to play at the highest level but with that comes responsibilities. At the end of the day they are young men and they are going to make mistakes and for a high-profile athlete if they do make a mistake it’s on Facebook, it’s in the media, these players get scrutinised.”

    In a dark irony, Whatuira is the most qualified welfare officer in the game. It has little to do with his formal education and everything to do with the invaluable lived experience he brings to the role.

    Whatuira knows his story can save lives.

    The game needs him, every NRL club needs him.
     
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  2. mt.wellington
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    mt.wellington ABOVE THE LINE

    Will likely change the thread name to just mental health at some stage. Its a topic thats been touched on a bit at various times. Forget the thread where there was a bulk of posts about this issue. If anyone remembers let us know. Be good to add all the posts from that to here. Think it may have been the naughty chair thread?

    Sad reality is it affects a lot of people. Not just sports stars. Unfortunately some lads are finding the pressure too much in the junior grades. I doubt there is anyone here who hasnt known someone who has commited suicide or suffered from the blues themselves. I know I have my moments but know to manage it. Being a Warriors fan doesnt help :(...
     
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  3. snake77
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    snake77 Warriors 1st Grader

    Pretty scary reading what he went through. Not nice that he hit the two guys that he assaulted but it could have been much worse with the thoughts he was having about his partner and unborn child.

    I saw an interview with him on TV recently outlining the events the article covered. He's in a real good head space now and seems mellow. Good to see him doing well.

    As far as doing work with players. He'd be a good guy to have in that role seeing what he has experienced. A lot of those roles do seem like jobs for the boys sometimes so good to see someone who has experience to draw upon.
     
  4. snake77
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    snake77 Warriors 1st Grader

    You could have your work cut out there. From memory maybe the Naughty Chair thread due to SKD's court case and Foran's issues this year. The Foran stuff could have crossed over to the match fixing thread.

    Then you have the threads from earlier in this year with our club and the sleeping pills and energy drinks. A lot of talk in that thread might have crossed over to dealing with the ups and downs of pro sport and then moved to depression. That then may have moved over to one of the Manu Vatuvei threads.
     
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  5. BiggerD
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    BiggerD 1st Grade Fringe

    So the Warriors must now have a Welfare officer..Good too see
    Otherwise, I hope they get one.

    Thanks Mount Wellington.. I was going to put a Agree Emoji on your post.. but it looks too happy.
     
  6. mt.wellington
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    mt.wellington ABOVE THE LINE

    Jerry Seuseu...
     
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  7. bruce
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    bruce Warriors 1st Grader Contributor

    Paul would make an outstanding Welfare Officer because he knows what depression is like. One of the most frustrating things for psychologists is knowing just what it is like, because most have not suffered from it. It is a terrible illness, if he sees any kids suffering he will recognise it and be able to relate to them in a way that no psychologist can. He will do a lot of good. I applaud his courage in getting to grips with it and speaking out. That would not be easy.
     
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  8. Sup42
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    Sup42 "Dave"

    Cool that the bro has found a Job out of misfortune.

    He joins a. Long list of advocates (John Kirwan and the ilk) with a public profile.

    This guy became psychotic and homicidal.

    In some ways he represents a small cross section of mental illness rather than 'garden variety issues'.

    This bloke became so sick that he needed an ICU level of care (serious threat to himself and others).

    By in large the majority of people who access mental health services don't get that dangerous (for example a city of the Size of Auckland with tens of thousands / hundreds of thousands of mental health affected people only allocates beds for a dozen or so people in each Auckland region (Northshore West Auckland Central Auckland South Auckland).

    People who experience the extremes of Paul's story are the bread and butter of hospital nurses, but when compared to wider mental health care they are at the extreme upper end.

    If you are looking for a 'scared straight type scare story....an ask for help early guy...he is well placed.

    But I would caution the foggy link between his traumatic past and Rugby league in my experience.

    He could well have been an accountant with his background and ended up hearing voices telling him to kill his family.

    The missing emphasis in that story is seek help early.

    Not judging the bro, but let me say as soon as you hear voices saying fucked up shit it is your personal responsibility to seek help before you can no longer tell the difference ( a whole other thread).
     
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  9. mt.wellington
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    mt.wellington ABOVE THE LINE

    Manly star Lewis Brown’s brave stand to break tragic cycle

    8 hours ago
    NATHAN RYAN Link has been hidden. Please Register to view.
    Source: FOX SPORTS

    AFTER two consecutive generations of family tragedy, Lewis Brown first reached out with an emotional Instagram post. It was not enough.

    Now, as rugby league comes to grips with the passing of Chad Robinson, Brown has revealed how the suicide of his estranged father Bevan late last year prompted him to make several significant changes to his life and take up the fight against depression, personally and now publicly.

    For the illness has not just claimed his dad but also his grandfather.

    “Just before the Four Nations final my sister (Mandessa) found out my old man had died. He actually killed himself. She found out before the final and didn’t tell me until straight after (the game) which I’m thankful for,” Brown told foxsports.com.au.

    “It’s changed my head space a bit. I hadn’t talked to my old man in eight years so it’s been hard.

    “I’m glad to be back at training and in a good head space. I’m real happy. I’m still grieving.

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    Manly star Lewis Brown has shared his personal story.Source: News Corp Australia

    “Suicide is a hard thing. You have so many questions, especially when I haven’t talked to my old man in eight years.

    “2016 was one of the hardest years on and off the field for me. I want to get back to being happy. That’s when I play my best footy.”

    Raised by single mother Trish, Brown had limited contact with his father while growing up in Christchurch.

    The time they spent together gradually diminished as he grew older.

    After landing a scholarship with the Roosters as a teenager, Brown moved to Sydney and they completely lost touch.


    It wasn’t until a chance meeting with a man recently released from prison who had reunited with his son while Brown was playing Jersey Flegg that the former Warrior and Panther decided to reach out to his father.

    They spoke. Brown travelled to New Zealand to visit him and again they drifted.

    It was during this time he learnt of his father’s struggled with the black dog.

    “A lot of the stuff I’m feeling at the moment is guilt,” he revealed.

    “I found out that my dad’s dad (also) committed suicide.

    “I’ve drawn a line in the sand and started speaking to someone.

    “My mum pulled me aside and said ‘you’re in a position where you can really help someone’.

    “I only had one photo of me with my old man. I put it up on Instagram with a message. I thought if I can help one person turn their life around or reach out, I’m willing to do that.

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    Lewis Brown in action for Manly.Source: News Corp Australia

    “I’m 30 now and since I was five I had a lot of feelings about my dad that I wanted to tell him but I put them on the back burner because I thought one day I’d get to the point where I’d eventually tell him. Unfortunately time ran out for me. I’m sure this will make me stronger as a person and rugby league player.”

    During the Christmas break, Brown spent time with several Kiwi teens caught up in gang life in a bid to steer them in the right direction.

    He said the shock loss of his father has given him the courage to make several key changes in his personal life — including working through his issues with a professional, which has already had positive impacts.

    He said he had been struck by apparent similarities between himself and Robinson.

    “I’m gutted and thankful that it’s taken something extreme like this for me to go ‘hold up’,” he said.

    “I’m the type of dude where I hold everything in and I don’t want to be a burden on people.

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    Lewis Brown on the attack.Source: News Corp Australia

    “I was reading about Chad Robinson and he was similar.

    “I’ve started talking to someone who is a professional and I don’t want to put it all in the back in my head and in 15 years’ time it all comes out. I want to break the cycle.

    “It’s been a tough couple of months but this is the best head space I’ve been in a long time.”

    And it’s not just mental health Brown has been working on.

    With an incredible outlook on life, Brown has shifted his attention to bringing happiness back to his game.

    Last pre-season he joined the Sea Eagles from Penrith but was limited in pre-season training due to a knee injury.

    The injury affected his entire season to the point where he admits he lost the spark that made him a success in the NRL.

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    Lewis Brown winds up for Manly.Source: News Corp Australia

    But after returning to training early, restless waiting at home to get back to work, the utility has reignited that flame and is primed for a massive season.

    “When I’m at my best, I’m energetic and enthusiastic,” he explained.

    “I probably haven’t got the best skills in the game but I’m energetic and if you look at me playing five different positions, I play them all the same. I run hard and tackle hard. I’m energetic and I probably lost that last year.

    “I’ve got two years left at Manly but there’s kids coming through putting pressure on me. I’ve gone back to my old mindset. Just put your head down and work hard.

    “I’m ahead of where I was last year. I played every game but felt like I was forever chasing my tail. I was pretty disappointed with my quality of game. I didn’t think I had a great season and I know the Manly fans weren’t too happy with me. I understand. That’s a bit of fuel on the fire for me.”

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  10. diehard
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    diehard 1st Grade Fringe

    Great article, and good on Brown. He knows the family history, wants to break the cycle of suicide in his family, and realises the characteristics that have led to suicide in his family, such as keeping his feelings to himself and not be a burden to anyone. He's going to a professional, which is excellent. Now he needs to put into action what he knows. I wish him well.
     
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  11. bruce
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    bruce Warriors 1st Grader Contributor

    Sorry mate, but what is a garden variety mental health issue? Honest question.
     
  12. diehard
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    diehard 1st Grade Fringe

    Shrinks often go through multiple diagnoses in an attempt to name it. Suicide has no diagnose. It is sometimes seen as a symptom of Major Depression, but that's not always, or even usually true. For instance, teenagers will sometimes commit suicide due to rejection, social media bullying, or breaking up with a loved one. I say this because Brown sought help to deal with his issues, not a diagnosis.
     
  13. Sup42
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    Sup42 "Dave"

    Garden variety is a silly term to use in this thread, sorry for the flippant terminology.

    Most folk that seek mental heath support have depression, anxiety, stress related circumstance,, substance use issues.

    That story of Paul Whatuira is less common.
     
  14. mt.wellington
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    mt.wellington ABOVE THE LINE

    Not weak to speak...

    NZ youth suicide twice Australia's
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    An OECD report published last year found New Zealand had the highest rate in the developed world. Photo: Getty Images

    New Zealand's suicide rate is higher than Australia's; twice as many of our young men have killed themselves in recent years.

    A study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal compared suicide rates between the nations from 1949 to 2013, focusing on age patterns.

    In the latest year bracket available, 2009 to 2013, the rate among Kiwi men aged 20 to 24 was 29.7 per 100,000 - double the rate of Australian men of the same age group.

    The study, "Changes in the age pattern of New Zealand suicide rates'', by Australian clinical professor John Snowdon, was based on Ministry of Health and Australian Bureau of Statistics data and census data.

    While suicide rates were similar between the nations generally, New Zealand's rate was higher overall, due to higher rates among young citizens, including a "markedly higher'' suicide rate of youths.

    New Zealand has continuously ranked among the worst in the world for levels of teen suicide.

    An OECD report published last year found New Zealand had the highest rate in the developed world.

    "There must be continued concern regarding the relatively high youth suicide rate in New Zealand versus the much lower corresponding rates in Australia,'' Prof Snowdon said.

    He proposed substance abuse could be a factor in the rise and fall of suicide rates of young adult males.

    As well as age patterns, Prof Snowdon also compared suicide rates among Maori and non-Maori with Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals.

    The suicide rates of young adult indigenous populations in both countries remained high, but there was a fall in the suicide rate of non-indigenous youths in Australia.

    "Suicide appears to be especially a problem among Maori youth,'' Prof Snowden said.

    The study noted explanations that had been made for the high Maori youth suicide rate, including the disadvantaged status of Maori in society, cultural alienation and confusion over identity.

    "It was also suggested that Maori, who traditionally identify themselves as members of a collective group, may find difficulty in societies which value individualism.''

    There have been substantial decreases in the suicide rates of New Zealanders and Australians over 55 since the 1980s.

    The study suggested this could be due to multiple factors, including greater use of antidepressants and the increased attention to the health and welfare needs of elderly people.

    Where to get help:

    • Lifeline 0800 543 354 or 09 522 2999
    • Suicide Prevention Helpline 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOK0)
    • Youthline 0800 376 633 or free text 234
    • Samaritans 0800 726 666

    • If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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  15. bruce
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    bruce Warriors 1st Grader Contributor

    Not helped by a failing education system.

    In the old days teachers used to get involved in sport with their students, build relationships and support at a very difficult time in their lives. Combine that with the breakdown of the natural Maori family support systems in the rural areas, and it is easy to see how kids fall through the cracks.

    Strange bastard that he was, Robert Muldoon knew this and argued against all the right wing economic theories because of what it would do to the rural populations. He wasn't much interested in education because he hated teachers but the right wing stuffed the education system as well by also declaring war on teachers.

    Good teachers have saved a hell of a lot of kids, not these days.
     
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  16. bruce
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    bruce Warriors 1st Grader Contributor

    I forgot to mention that cannabis and psychosis are connercted. Cannabis use is terribly rife in rural areas these days. The commercial industry is stuffed because of Police helicopters and Auckland hydroponic growers, but the kids still grow it in the bush.
     
  17. diehard
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    diehard 1st Grade Fringe

    Just wanted to say that when I was in NZ mental health in the late 1990's-2000's, there was a policy to keep suicides quiet, as the powers that be felt that talking about it would sensationize it and cause others to want to commit suicide. This is despite research throughout the world to the contrary. It contributed to more suicides. Thankfully, it's changing, and players like Lewis Brown help a lot of people by his story and the actions he's taken in his own life.
     
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  18. snake77
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    snake77 Warriors 1st Grader

    NZ youth suicide is twice that of Australia's. A worrying statistic. From the outside the Australians have some good initiatives with the are you OK day and promoting things like that during sporting events to give them more coverage.

    I've heard of a lot of guys I used to go to school with who have taken their lives due to a break up with a girl friend. We have all been there in our teens and it seems like the end. If you can get through your teens you get to your twenties and what happens then. You break up with your girl friend and your mates take you out to the clubs to scout for a replacement. By that I don't mean to trivialize suicide more highlight in your teenage years you can be all loved up but it a few years time you could look at things differently.

    The rural areas being a contributing factor I can understand. I grew up in a small town and as a teenager or someone in their early twenties there is not a lot of work. Having a lot of time on your hands and no money can lead to a lot of boredom especially if all of your mates have either left town or are working during the day. This can soon wear you down.

    As someone who has gone through both of the above when I was younger I got a bit worried about my nephew a month or so ago. That was from a comment from my wife about his mother being worried about him. Luckily that was more from someone being back in town briefly.
     
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  19. Sup42
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    Sup42 "Dave"

    Dope is an interesting one.

    Especially if you consider that Medical cannabis is gaining support in the US of late for its positive properties.

    My own thoughts on dope are anecdotal (like everyone else's really).

    Put simply, dope is varied in its make up in a similar fashion to the many forms of Alcohol.....so where some have no issue having one or two drinks a night (provided its a type of booze like Wine or Beer that suits the individual)....things tend to be ok.

    There is a large group of Dope smokers that can use Dope (of a suitable strain) in measured quantity-without a problem.....in fact it seems to have benefits when people of the right age (matured brain) and the right balance of the two main Psychoactive substances. (Dopes two main ingredients are THC and CBD)l.

    Research shows that dope ruins the formation of developing immature brains.

    Research also shows that people with 'brittle brains'....vulnerable to psychotic disorders....are likely to be adversely affected by using dope.....it can trigger a one off episode....and it can trigger what could become a long term illness e.g Schizophrenia.

    So dope doesn't cause Schizophrenia, but the psychotic episode it triggers in a Schizophrenic has historically been mistaken as being causative.

    There are many legal and illegal drugs that could trigger that first episode psychosis in a psychotic disorder.

    The thing I like about the loosening of the medical Marijuana laws is that finally the plant can be tested to find the breed that has the most positive effect and minimal negatives....this is so important in a Western medical system that has studied and created synthetic Versions of the opium poppy which we have all benefited from.

    I want good science.

    Marijuana is clearly a hugely beneficial natural plant if studied by good science and used correctly.

    Another argument against Marijuana is that it is a gateway drug to harder drugs.

    This is true.....until you reach a level of proliferation of hard drugs like Meth in a country like NZ....to the degree that cannabis is harder to buy than Meth.

    In other words NZ has gone well past the gateway theory.

    Lastly....Synthetic Cannabis is so bad, so dangerous, so cheap to buy on Auckland's streets....that as a mental health worker I find myself selling the same argument in this post about the positives of real cannabis to Synthetic users.

    Personally I don't use cannabis, however I advocate for taking the Police and courts out of the equation.

    I suspect a full on Scientific study of cannabis would see the development of many more useful drugs which treat many more symptoms than the opium poppy


    The anti marijuana policies of the US have stopped this drug from being used for the benefit of mankind.
     
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  20. diehard
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    diehard 1st Grade Fringe

    Medical marijuana in, other marijuana de-criminalised but illegal. And yes, it does make mental health issues worse.

    Getting back to the NRL. Teams need to give the message to the players that if something is bothering you mentally, emotionally, family, etc., it's going to effect your play, and will not be tolerated. We need to get around the idea of toughing it out. That's the prevailing theme. Instead, it needs to be linked to performance, something that the players can relate to. And there needs to be an open door policy to someone on staff, such as the welfare officer, who can get him some help. Better yet, there needs to be a therapist who is contracted to each team. Or several, so that the player can choose.
     
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