AFL players 'suffering in silence': Scott

Tom Boyd of the Western Bulldogs retired, in part due to mental health issues.
Tom Boyd of the Western Bulldogs retired, in part due to mental health issues.

With the AFL more focused on mental health than ever before, Geelong coach Chris Scott has no doubt there are still players suffering in silence.

The retirement of Western Bulldogs premiership hero Tom Boyd is the latest consequence of what officials consider to be the biggest issue in football.

Boyd announced his decision on Thursday, citing the burden of physical and mental health issues.

The AFL is expected this year to appoint a mental health officer who will liaise with clubs and report to football operations boss Steve Hocking.

Lance Franklin, Heath Grundy and Jack Steven are among the high-profile players to have cited mental health struggles in temporarily stepping away from the game in recent years, helping to reduce the stigma surrounding the topic.

But Scott, who witnessed former Cats key forward Mitch Clark's long battle with depression, believed others would be masking their struggles.

"Some are, I suspect," Scott told the Seven Network's Game Day.

"It would be naive of us to think that we're across it all.

"There is a big subset of the population that are suffering in silence. And slowly that's being broken down with examples where players can, with good support, fight their way through it.

"One thing I do think we need to do better as an industry is stop the blink reaction, which can be 'you're well-rewarded and you're living your dream'.

"Sometimes it's actually someone else's dream. These guys just happen to be talented young players."

Scott described it as a "tragedy" that Boyd had been lost to the game and expressed hope the former No.1 draft pick could one day resume his career.

"Let's hope that he can find his way back," he said.

"We were talking about (Geelong defender) Tom Stewart earlier. At 18, he didn't even want to play footy. And at 23, he's an All-Australian.

"I don't think just because at 23, Tom is struggling so much in his life that he feels he can't play footy, that would preclude him from coming back in four or five years. Because I think the game would welcome him back with open arms."

Australian Associated Press