‘I was a bit lost’: Andrew O’Keefe speaks out on stint in mental health clinic

Andrew O'Keefe admitted he checked into a mental health clinic after his marriage split. Source: Getty.

He took some time out of the limelight this year and now The Chase host Andrew O’Keefe has revealed he checked himself into a mental health clinic to overcome a “sense of loss of meaning” in his life.

Speaking in an exclusive chat with The Herald Sun, the TV star admitted a series of “poor choices” in his life and with his health led him down the path of seeking professional help, following the breakdown of his marriage and the death of a close friend.

The 48-year-old was caught up in headlines last September when photos emerged of him appearing to kiss a woman in Tasmania following his split from wife Eleanor. He went on to take eight weeks away from filming in April to focus on his health – insisting it’s changed his life.

“I have had a few things going on in my life in recent times — there have been a few things going on in my life as a constant for a little too long,’’ he told the news outlet. “I was surprised to discover perhaps I was not as resilient as I imagined I was and that …. I was exhausted, I was a bit lost.”

He admitted he wasn’t getting enough sleep at the time, was focusing too much on the painful parts of his life and not on things he enjoyed, and was perhaps drinking too much and not living a healthy lifestyle. O’Keefe said it eventually got to the point where he had to “remove himself from the world” for a bit to seek help.

The TV favourite said he sought “time out in a clinic” to deal with “painful emotions” and “unhelpful behaviours”, adding: “The sense of loss of meaning in your life, which is what I felt, generates behaviours that you yourself don’t even recognise.”

He said it helped to rejuvenate him however and he will now embark on his planned tour in memory of his uncle Johnny O’Keefe, Andrew O’Keefe ‘Shouts’ Johnny O’Keefe, after returning to The Chase in June. But while he insisted he’s feeling better, he knows he will always be a work in progress.

O’Keefe, who shares three children Barnaby, 15, Rory, 12, and Olivia, eight, with his ex-wife Eleanor, separated from her at the end of 2017.

O’Keefe’s manager Mark Klemens previously spoke out in April to confirm the 48-year-old would be taking a month off to deal with some “personal issues”. “Over the past year or so AOK [Andrew O’Keefe] has had to come to terms with his marriage breakdown among a range of other issues,” Klemens said in a statement, according to The Daily Telegraph at the time.

“He is also determined to deal with these issues and is committed to getting back on track as soon as he can,” the statement continued. “He is looking forward to full health and hopefully being back in the studio in a couple of weeks.”

O’Keefe previously hosted Deal or No Deal and Million Dollar Minute. He also hosted Weekend Sunrise for 12 years but announced his shock resignation from the show in 2017.

And he previously spoke to Starts at 60 about the joys of working on The Chase Australia. “The stand-out moments for us are when things don’t go according to plan, it’s always a lot of fun,” he said in a 2018 interview. “For example, some of the great contestant answers we’ll never forget.

“You have to stop to have a little giggle, and I don’t always keep a straight face. One or two time I’ve had to stop the clock because I’m just convulsing with laughter.”

If you are concerned about yours or your family or friends’ mental health, contact Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978, Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 or Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 for confidential support, advice and referral that will help you explore your options.

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