In a brief statement issued to the ASX this morning, Crown Resorts said that Mr Packer resigned as a director of the casino group “for personal reasons”.
“We have appreciated James’ contribution to the board and respect his decision to step down from his role as a director at this time,” said John Alexander, the group’s executive chairman.
A spokesperson for Crown Resorts confirmed initial speculation that mental health is behind Mr Packer’s departure.
“Mr Packer is suffering from mental health issues. At this time he intends to step back from all commitments,” the spokesperson said.
Mr Packer is arguably the highest-profile Australian to leave their position because of mental illness. Other notable examples include former NSW Premier John Brogden, and the late model turned TV presenter Charlotte Dawson, who committed suicide in 2014.
According to beyondblue, an estimated 3 million Australians live with anxiety or depression. While the isolation of running a business has highlighted concerns for the mental health and wellbeing of SME owners and operators, mental illness can affect anyone, at any age.
Last year, Pedro Diaz of the Workplace Mental Health Institute told My Business that almost one in five suicides could be attributed to workplace factors. Such startling figures suggest that business leaders have a strong role to play in addressing mental health concerns, both for their own wellbeing and that of the people they employ.
Anyone suffering mental health concerns, or who have concerns for the welfare of someone else, can contact beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.