‘I Just Put My Hand Up And Asked For Help’: Brent Draper Explains His Emotional MasterChef Exit

In one of the most heartbreaking, powerful episodes ever, MasterChef contestant Brent Draper left the competition.

Following a battle with anxiety for the first time, on Sunday night Brent put his hand up - pausing an elimination challenge - and revealed that he could no longer continue in the competition. In one of the most powerful moments in the show’s history, Brent explained that he needed to prioritise his mental health and had made the decision to return to his family and to seek help outside the competition.

After the episode aired, Brent posted an update on Instagram detailing the series of events that had led him down a path where he was not only dealing with the mental aspects of anxiety but started to deteriorate physically.

Speaking to 10 play, Brent reflected on the 24 hours between the episode airing and the outpouring of support he had received from family, friends and fans.

“It’s pretty crazy reliving the whole episode and what went down, but what happened after, the responses and the people reaching out to me, has absolutely blown it out of the park,” he said.

“The episode, because I went through it, it was pretty tough to see. But what happened after, that’s where the magic was.”

Having left the show, Brent said he sought help from doctors and a psychologist and “got the train back on the tracks”. Since then, he made the decision to be completely open about his experiences and how he’s doing now.

“With that, knowing I was going to be vulnerable in front of so many people, I got this power. I felt powerful to watch it again, if that makes sense,” he said.

“Once you let everything out you’ve got nothing to hide, so there’s this safe space. It’s just me. Take it or leave it.”

Earlier in the week, Jock Zonfrillo had noticed a change in Brent’s demeanour, but Brent said he was able to see just how bad things had gotten weeks earlier.

“I knew I was going down a pretty bad path a lot further back, but that’s when people who don’t really know me started to notice something, to see a difference in me,” he explained.

“People who knew me, my wife, knew things weren’t good a long time before that,” he added.

Jock spoke to 10 play about his own experiences with anxiety and admitted that he felt he may have been more attuned to the changes in Brent due to his own understanding of mental health. But Brent decided to push through, until Sunday where he finally put his hand up and made the call to end his time in the competition.

Feeling “100 percent” supported in his decision, Brent said his biggest supporter and wife Shonleigh was the one to give him the push he needed.

“I was still in my head trying to fight, but I wasn’t thinking logically. It was her little push to put my hand up. It’s not something that — especially men — are willing to do, it’s tough for men and it shouldn’t be.”

Speaking about the stigma around men’s mental health and asking for help, Brent said it should be “as normal as going down the road to get your milk for your cereal” but since Sunday’s episode aired he has been floored by the number of people who have reached out, opening up for the first time.

Over the last 24 hours or so, Brent has received a deluge of “the kindest, nicest comments” but among them are also some really difficult stories of men who have also struggled with mental health and have not been able to do what Brent did and put his hand up.

“I don’t feel like I did anything,” Brent admitted. “I didn’t save a kid from a burning building. I just put my hand up and asked for help.

“I guess that’s the world we live in where that’s almost heroic,” he added. “Hopefully this is a little bit of a shift and a change.

“After doing it everything that came after was just easy,” he continued. “I’m not weak because of it, I don’t feel weak. The fellas I thought would look down on me because of it are sending me these messages about how they’re struggling.

“There’s nothing bad that has come out of it. Once you do it, you realise there’s nothing but goodness to come.”

But it wasn’t an instant fix for Brent, who said leaving the competition didn’t immediately absolve him from the anxiety he had been dealing with throughout the show.

“The first step was saying I needed help, then seeing my doctor, psychologist and doing all the right things that ground me,” he said.

Returning to real life, his wife and son Alfie, and the things that he finds solace in, Brent was able to not only get back into a healthier routine for his mental health but also worked on a “toolbox” for dealing with anxiety.

“The biggest thing I learned is that I’m not invincible. You think you’re tough and you can handle everything… but the bubble nearly burst on national TV,” Brent said.

“This is my journey. This is my MasterChef journey. It was never to make top 10, and I didn’t know that. It was to go through this pain, learn about it, mend myself and then hopefully inspire people to do the same.”

If you or anyone you know needs help or would like to speak to someone, contact Beyond Blue on 1800 512 348, or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Watch the new season of MasterChef Australia, Sunday to Thursday at 7.30 on 10 or watch on demand on 10 play