Penrith centre Jamal Idris says depression is "nothing to be ashamed of" and has applauded Knights star Darius Boyd for opening up on his battle against the illness.
Speaking for the first time since taking his own three-week sabbatical from the NRL mid-season, Idris thanked the Panthers for giving him the space to deal with his off-field issues before declaring he was both mentally and physically ready for a full tilt at finals football.
"It's a long season, so that time off definitely refreshed me. The crowds were awesome out there on the field as well, they really give you a lot of support," he said.
"It was definitely tough watching the boys [from afar] but at the end of the day, this was the right decision for the team as well. I came back better."
After reportedly failing to show up late to training following a bye weekend back in May, Idris was mysteriously given a leave of absence by the club to sort through some "personal issues".
It is believed the former NSW representative had struggled with depression and alcohol abuse, problems that the 24-year-old said he had since addressed with the help of the club.
"Let's just say I looked at life. I had a good, hard look at myself and did things that I know are going to better myself," he said.
"The support [from the club] was awesome. Gus is definitely a top bloke. We're quite the same in a lot of ways, so we really understand each other."
Idris also admired Boyd's bravery in speaking out on his own fight against depression. The Knights' fullback was admitted into a mental health clinic late last month and has yet to make a return to the football field.
Boyd completed his rehabilitation program last week but won't return before the end of the season as he makes a decision on whether to honour the final year of his contract at Newcastle next year.
"It can happen to anyone. No-one's exempt to depression. It's awesome that everyone's coming out. It's definitely nothing to be ashamed of," Idris said.
"But everyone deals with it in different ways. Some people deal with it publicly, some people keep it private... as long as you've got someone to talk to.
"I haven't spoken with him, obviously that's his business. If he wants to open up to anyone he definitely can. But that's up to him. As long as he has good people around him, he'll be fine."
Idris has now played eight straight games since returning to the playing field in Round 16, and said he has been happy with his form thus far.
"I can't really complain at the moment. I'm pretty happy. It took me a while at the start of the year in moving to the left and trying to work out the difference between that and the right. Me and Moyza are really starting to connect now so we're playing good, and Sowie as well," he said.