Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio has revealed her battle against ongoing mental health issues.
The netball shooter has taken to Instagram in a raw and heartfelt message, speaking out on a constant battle that most elite athletes face.
The 30-year-old insists people need to know it's okay to ask for help.
"Just because I am a successful athlete does not mean I am immune to mental health challenges," writes Ekenasio, who led her to Constellation Cup victory over Australia this month.
"Just because I seemingly have everything going for me does not mean that every single day can be really damn hard.
"It’s not always what it seems on the outside, but it’s ALWAYS IMPORTANT to ask for help."
Ekenasio’s revelation follows the retirement of world champion rower Zoe McBride this week, citing personal health and well-being issues.
The 25-year-old lightweight sculler told Newshub she had dealt with an eating disorder over the past five years, and walking away from elite sport was the only option for her own health and safety.
Ekenasio says the pressures of being an athlete can lead to a build-up of personal challenges - both physical and mental - and stresses the importance of being honest in "red-flagging" issues when they arise.
"I promise it’s always better to go early,” she says. “I’ve been seeing a therapist for a while now to just keep me afloat and let me say JUST afloat.
“I’m prepared to work with her for as long as it takes, as there is no quick fix here.
"It’s been a heavy and compounding couple of months in amongst all the good things."
Ekenasio hopes to "normalise mental health therapy", which she insists has "saved her life".
"What I want from sharing this is the hope to further normalise talking about mental health and acceptance of no matter what you see, it’s not always what you think you see.
“LETS NORMALISE THERAPY!! Do I need to say it louder?!?
"Honestly, therapy has saved my life in the past. And know who your support network is, where the gaps are and where you may need outside help."
Where to find help and support:
- Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633
- Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
- Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
- What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
- Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
- Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email firstname.lastname@example.org or online chat
- Samaritans - 0800 726 666
- Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
- Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
- Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584