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Joel Thompson is on a mission to save lives

After 234 games for Canberra, the Dragons, and Manly, Joel Thompson has called time on an impressive NRL career. But it’s perhaps his work off the field that will be his greatest legacy.

He’s a Ken Stephens Medal winner, which recognises the efforts of NRL players in the community.

Having grown-up around domestic violence, unstable housing, and drug and alcohol abuse, he found himself struggling with his mental health over the years, even at the height of his success. It’s this experience that inspired him to set up the ‘Mindset Project’, which enables him to help others.

As David Riccio revealed in the Daily Telegraph this week, when the NRL season finishes, Thompson will not be sunning himself on a beach but instead will cover hundreds of kilometers across country NSW to areas where the rate of suicide continues to rise.

In November, Thompson will meet senior members of local communities and give talks on mental health and professional help in towns such as Gundagai, Wagga Wagga, Griffith, Goolgowi, and his hometown Ivanhoe. It’s a mission he will try and undertake annually.

Thompson has been personally affected by suicide, having lost friends and relatives in the last decade. He was encouraged by his wife to do more with his time.

As for his goal, “it’s about bringing the communities together, having professionals come up with ways we can work together to reduce the numbers around suicide and be there to support each other. That’s what it’s all about. getting these conversations started”.

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