For the first time, Australia’s key mental health providers have united with the NRL to launch a mental wellness campaign that will use the profile of the most watched series in Australian sport to help breakdown stereotypes and stigmas in relation to mental health.
In a show of game-wide unity on the eve of the 2013 Holden State of Origin Series opener, rival coaches Mal Meninga and Laurie Daley came together today at Sydney’s Rugby League Central to throw their support behind the ‘What’s Your State of Mind’ campaign.
Meninga is one of the Rugby League stars to feature in the Community Service Announcements (CSAs) that will be broadcast throughout the 2013 Holden State of Origin Series over the next six weeks. The CSAs also feature Johnathan Thurston, Paul Gallen, Mitchell Pearce, Greg Inglis, Roy Asotasi and Andrew Ryan.
The mental health service providers involved in ‘What’s Your State of Mind’ are: Headspace (National Youth Mental Health Foundation); Beyond Blue; SANE Australia; Lifeline; Black Dog Institute; Davidson Trahaire Corpsych; and MensLine Australia.
NRL Chief Executive, Mr Dave Smith, said that with statistics revealing mental health affects one in five people, ‘What’s Your State of Mind’ campaign is an important initiative for the community, as well as for Rugby League players.
“The NRL’s commitment to this campaign is demonstrated by the fact we have aligned it with the prestigious State of Origin, which is one of the pinnacle showpieces of the season,” Mr Smith said.
“Mental health does not discriminate – even in a game as tough as Rugby League - we are faced with mental health challenges.
“Our Rugby League family of players, officials and volunteers should know that it’s okay to talk to someone if you don’t feel right.
“Having the courage to talk about how you are feeling ensures you will have the support of others – and at the same time, you could be giving someone else the confidence to talk about how they feel.”
The campaign also includes a dedicated website - www.nrlstateofmind.com.au – and Z-cards with information for those seeking help.
NRL Senior Welfare and Education Manager Mr Paul Heptonstall said the ‘What’s Your State of Mind’ campaign is an important addition to the programs and work already being done across the game in this area, with the employment of a dedicated Welfare Manager at every NRL Club. They all trained in the basic understanding of mental health issues.
“Rugby League is a physical sport and the physical effects are often seen on our players, however just like in society the mental effects are generally not as visible,” Mr Heptonstall said.
“The State of Mind Campaign brings together mental health service providers under one umbrella, to help breakdown stereotypes and stigmas in relation to mental health.
“We also hope this campaign will encourage members of the community to take ownership and responsibility of their own state of mind and encourage everyone to look out for each other.
“The aim of the program is to ensure a healthier environment where a mental health issue is treated the same as any other illness.”
Rugby League Ambassador and former Eels captain Nathan Hindmarsh said: “As a former professional Rugby League player I am well aware of the pressures associated with our sport.
“With the growing instances of mental health issues it is even more important to speak to someone if you’re not feeling okay. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
As part of today’s launch, the NRL unveiled two unique jerseys to be auctioned to raise funds for the mental health providers involved in ‘What’s Your State of Mind’.
The NRL has teamed up with award-winning designer and retailer Vivien Challita, of Vee Love Couture, to produce two stunning NSW VB Blues and QLD XXXX Maroons jerseys embellished with more than 35,000 Swarovski crystals. They have been signed by the respective team members of the sides for Game I.
Ms Challita dedicated 50 hours to embellishing the two jerseys which will be auctioned online at http://www.nrlauctions.com