Jonathan Hay on his battle with Mental Health

The Male Hug ambassador and former AFL footballer Jonathan Hay has bravely spoken to the Herald Sun’s John Ralph about his battle with Mental Health issues and Drug and Alcohol addiction in the hope it will encourage other men to speak freely about their problems.

The father of 2 has kept a private persona since his retirement from professional football back in 2007 and has now decided to tell his story in full, as an example of what Men can do to relieve themselves from the stress of bottling things up.

“Men need to get better at talking about their problems and that is why I am so proud to be an ambassador for The Male Hug, which is committed to raising awareness of men’s mental health for professional Males. The Male Hug provides a platform for professional males to talk and engage openly in a safe and friendly environment that is free of judgement.”

After 2 years of sobriety the former Hawthorn and North Melbourne defender spoke about
his past demon’s and excessive use of prescription and illicit drugs during and post his 157 game AFL career. A diagnosis of Bi-polar and living with the knowledge of a stalker trying to change his life, drove Hay to a dark and depressing world and finished his football career at an early age.

“I take full responsibility for what has happened in my life. I don’t pass the buck. I don’t blame Hawthorn for anything that happened and I don’t blame North Melbourne. If anything, I apologise to both of them for what’s happened.”

The Male Hug’s CEO Tony Rabah spoke highly of the reasons Hay has told his story in full for he first time.

“Jonathon is an amazing man, and for him to come back from the adversity he has faced is an amazing story and one of the main reasons we asked him to become an ambassador of The Male Hug. The fact that Johnny has spoken to encourage other men to speak out about their problems is a true statement of his character. All we are trying to do at The Male Hug is get professional men talking about their issues and problems. We all have them, most of us understand them a lot of us don’t and we just need to get better at sharing them. A problem shared is a problem halved.”

Mr Rabah explaining that The Male Hug is a big believer that any problem can be solved if you have the right tools to help. “If it’s a tax situation, a lease arrangement, maybe you have lost your job or you just don’t believe your family is respecting your situation, chatting to someone can make a massive difference. Our buddies involved in our Let’s Chat program are people who have had life experiences in so many different areas. Talking to someone about your issues could be the first step you need to take to releasing a whole lot of stress that might be building up inside.”

Jonathan Hay – The Male Hug ambassador and former AFL All Australian Full-Back. Photo courtesy of the Herald Sun.

Jon Hay explaining what The Male Hug is all about.

“The reason I have become a part of The Male Hug is because I am a true believer of what they are trying to do, allowing men to talk openly in a non judgemental environment. This week will see the launch of our Let’s Chat, buddy program. This will allow Professionals to embrace Professionals in a one on one conversation to see if problems can be resolved. It doesn’t matter if the problem is professional, financial or family related just have a chat with someone before the situation gets out of hand.”

If you would like more information about The Male Hug or would like to speak to Jon Hay about his amazing story please call our Media and Communications manager Tony Schibeci on 0415 477 105 or email

The Male Hug

The Male Hug is a not for profit organisation that is committed to raising awareness of men’s mental health for professional males. We provide support and a platform for professional males to talk and engage openly in a safe and friendly environment that is free of judgement.

The Male Hug’s “Let’s Chat” Program

In a time like no other now is your time to stand up and help your fellow man.

We at the Male Hug are looking to build our army of buddies to tackle the rising anxiety among men caused by the recent world changing events associated with the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Whilst our formal get-togethers, information evenings and fun events are on hold due to the Coronavirus our mission has never been more critical. We are responding to the restriction on physical meetings with an increased focus on talking on the phone.

Photo courtesy of The Herald Sun