Sir John Kirwan is not just a name synonymous with rugby; he has emerged as a beacon of hope in the realm of mental health and well-being. From his distinguished career on the rugby field to his groundbreaking efforts off the field, John has carved a niche as a formidable advocate for mental health awareness. He is now the Co-Founder of Groov.
Starting his illustrious journey in 1984 with the All Blacks, John’s accomplishments on the field are impressive. His record for 199 first-class tries and integral role in the 1987 Rugby World Cup for New Zealand are testaments to his sportsmanship and dedication. However, it was his courageous admission of grappling with depression and anxiety that truly set him apart. At a time when conversations about mental health were still taboo, especially in the athletic community, John took a bold step, breaking the silence and using his platform to foster understanding.
His endeavour to bring about a change in societal perceptions has been relentless. As the Co-Founder of Groov, John has focused on bettering mental health and well-being management within workplaces. This initiative reflects his deep understanding that promoting well-being is not just a personal endeavour but should be integral to professional environments. Further amplifying his commitment, John’s hosting of the “Open Minded” podcast serves as a platform for genuine discussions on well-being, especially in the professional sphere. Through insightful interviews, John brings forth stories that underscore the importance of prioritising mental health. His endeavours have facilitated numerous organisations in nurturing their most prized assets – their employees.
A two-decade long crusade against the stigma surrounding mental health in New Zealand has earned John not just respect but also notable recognitions. In 2012, his outstanding contribution was acknowledged with the Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his exemplary services to Mental Health and Rugby. This was a notable addition to his accolade of receiving an OBE in 1989.
However, his journey doesn’t stop at accolades. Beyond the rugby field, beyond the podcast, and beyond his ventures like JK14 Wines, John remains committed to his mission. His charismatic presence, combined with his personal experiences and profound insights, makes him an inspiring speaker. Now available for a myriad of events, Sir John Kirwan’s voice resonates with authenticity, hope, and a vision for a world where mental health is prioritised and stigma-free. His dedication remains an inspiration, reminding us that champions are not just made on the field but in the hearts and minds of those they touch.