Jesinta Campbell, the fiancee of Sydney Swans star forward Lance "Buddy" Franklin, believes her partner will never "truly recover" from his mental health issues but says he is making steady progress ahead of a return this season.
Franklin has not played a game of football since September after revealing he suffered from mental illness - a condition the Swans had been aware of for some time.
The 29-year-old is back training with the Swans, but Campbell, speaking on the Today show on Monday, said that, although Franklin was doing everything right to be ready for Sydney's opening fixture against Collingwood on March 26, the effects of his mental illness might stick with him for longer than people might expect.
"I don't think you ever truly recover from a mental health issue," Campbell said. "It is really something that you battle with and challenge with every day. I think with anyone who struggles with mental health, it's a day-by-day thing; you just have to tackle the day and do the best that you can. It's hard and just because he is a sports star doesn't mean that he's bulletproof."
Campbell hoped AFL and sports fans in general would do their bit to support Franklin; a player who has arguably the highest profile of anyone in the code.
"Being really sympathetic of that [would be great]," Campbell said. "I think the best thing as a country we could do is to be kinder to people."
From all reports, Franklin is now in a better frame of mind than he was last year when it came to light that he also suffers from a mild form of epilepsy, which is unrelated to his mental health issues.
"He was off to training really early this morning and he's really happy and healthy and that's the most important thing," Campbell said. "The big boy is back and, let me tell you, he's training the roof down. He's looking really muscly actually, which I'm loving."
After making his return to training in December, Franklin said: "It was a tough time for myself, leading into the finals. I was really struggling and I put my hand up and said I needed help. I'm so glad I did it. I took some time away and it was the best decision I've made."