Surfing legend Mick Fanning has opened up about his mental health struggles just months after losing his THIRD brother in tragic circumstances

By Josh Alston for Daily Mail Australia

08:27 June 04, 2024, updated 08:35 June 04, 2024

  • Spoke with Keiran Foran and best friend Joel Parkinson
  • Wants to send a message of support to young people

Surfing legend Mick Fanning has opened up about his mental health struggles, just months after losing his third brother in tragic circumstances.

Fanning, along with NRL star Kieran Foran and fellow surfing legend Joel Parkinson, shared their mental health journeys to promote the importance of conversations about mental wellbeing among young men.

The Titans support Top Blokes and Logan’s Legacy as part of their Round 14 match, following the tragic loss of Foran’s stepson Logan Steinwede, who committed suicide in 2023.

The young surfer was only 20 years old when he died.

Fanning’s brother Edward died in March this year while living and working at a surf camp in Madagascar.

The tragedy followed the deaths of his brothers Peter, who died in his sleep from a health condition in 2015, and Sean, who died in a car crash in Coolangatta in 1998.

Mick Fanning (left) speaks to NRL star Kieran Foran (centre) and promising colleague and best friend Joel Parkinson for the Top Blokes Foundation and Logan’s Legacy, to help young men battle depression
Fanning has lost three brothers, even when he was just 17 years old
Foran’s stepson Logan Steinwede took his life in 2023 and the Gold Coast Titans will honor him in a special tribute match

In a conversation with Foran and Parkinson, Fanning reflected on how the death of his brother Sean when he was a teenager had deeply affected him.

“When I lost my first brother, I was pretty much the same,” he said after hearing Foran talk about almost killing himself after his stepson’s death.

‘I was only young, 16 or 17. Everyone in the neighborhood says ‘be strong, be strong’ and I thought that showed no emotion and didn’t let anyone in.

‘So I had a wall that only came down when I was alone in my room.

“People would do the same thing, they sit there and say, how are you? And I (replied) ‘I’m fine, I’m fine’. I repressed so much and it all came back.”

It was through that early tragedy and the support of his friends and family that Fanning learned the importance of dealing with emotions, tools he would carry with him for life as he faced the heartbreaking loss of two more of his brothers and sisters.

“As I went on in life, I learned that you have to deal with those things every now and then because they just get bigger and worse in your mind,” he said.

Fanning has courageously spoken about his mental health struggles just months after losing his brother Edward (pictured together)
Fanning was back in the water shortly after the death of his brother Peter and was attacked by a shark in South Africa while challenging for a fourth world title
Fanning (pictured with partner Breeana Randall) has spoken about how important friends and family are in the battle against depression

Fanning explained that relying on his support network of family and friends, including his lifelong friendship with Parkinson’s, helped him cope with life’s challenges.

“Some people think there’s no way out, but it’s not that bad,” he said.

“You face your fears, you have your friends and your family supporting you and we have to help each other get through those dark times.”

‘I’ve been in the same situation where I couldn’t get out of bed. I would (ask myself) ‘f***, is this it?’ I just don’t want to face the world.

“I’ve had friends pull me out of bed, get me into water, and that has changed a lot of my trajectory and the way I approach things.”

Fanning (pictured right) wants to break the stigma that young men have to ‘be a man’ or ‘be tough’ in the fight against mental illness, and instead urge them to seek help
The former world champion said asking for help was the bravest thing a young Aussie could do to help himself.

Fanning is now urging other young people dealing with tragedy, trauma or mental health issues to open up and seek support.

“The most important thing is that when you’re 17, 18, you’re supposed to be a man,” he said. ‘And there is a stigma around it: you have to be strong and tough.

“But I think probably the bravest thing you can do is open up to someone and talk to them.”

“For me, when I travel, it was always calling a friend, or talking to a parent or my family. The people closest to you have unconditional love. They will try to do everything they can to help you.

“Even if they don’t have the answers, it’s so easy now to explore all that. You’ve got Top Blokes, you’ve got It Ain’t Weak to Speak, you’ve got all these mental health lifelines and all this stuff.

‘It’s so easy to get in touch with these people. And under no circumstances should it be embarrassing, it is braver if you cast your vote.”

Top Blokes Foundation 1300 450 850

Lifeline Australia 13 11 14 or text 0477 13 11 14 (24 hours)

Children’s helpline 1800 55 1800

Beyond Blue Support Service 1300 22 4636