The NRL has appointed its first game-wide State of Mind Ambassadors to help increase mental health literacy in clubs and communities.
In all, 14 ambassadors have been appointed, following liaison with club career coaches, to support Mental Health – one of the country’s biggest health issues.
NRL Head of Community, Adam Check said the engagement of elite players was critical in bringing a different attitude to the way mental health is addressed within the community.
“Mental illness affects one in two people nationally, with almost every community being touched by its impact in some way,” Mr Check said
“Rugby League is in a unique position to have a positive impact on mental health by using our profile and players to lead discussion, connect people and help break the silence on what can be a life-threatening matter.”
The State of Mind Ambassadors, who are current NRL squad members, volunteered for the roles because they wanted to make a difference in the area of mental health.
The nomination process took into account; reputation both on and off the field, a desire to contribute to the mental wellness of the community: participation in education in a relevant field and a willingness and capacity to participate in activities outside the club football schedule.
“These ambassadors are players who want to make a difference in the area of health and wellbeing – and many of them have been personally affected by it,” Mr Check said.
All ambassadors will receive Mental Health First Aid training and qualifications, training and support to be able to deliver a mental health program designed by the Black Dog Institute, the opportunity to give back to their community in a meaningful way and become a leader in mental health awareness within their clubs.
Manly’s State of Mind Ambassador, Brenton Lawrence said he always had a desire to give back to the community.
“In this role I will be able to learn more about the issue and filter it to my community,” he said.
“It is very common to come across blokes under stress who are experiencing depression – but the key is being able to identify the difference between depression and just having a bad day.
“If we can help someone by just knowing a bit more about the issue then I think it's worth the time.”
Wests Tigers State of Mind Ambassador, Dene Halatau said footy players were generally perceived as tough guys – but they were just as vulnerable as anyone else in the community.
“If we shed more light on mental health issues and show that it's not a weakness, then it might give people the motivation to seek help,” he said.
“If someone gets an injury on the field everyone can see it and know it affects performance.
“It's no different with mental health except you can’t see it.
“So this program is all about breaking down that stigma.
“It isn't a weakness to have a mental health problem.”
The 2015 State of Mind ambassadors are;
|Dan Hunt||St George Illawarra Dragons|
|Joel Thompson||St George Illawarra Dragons|
|Ben Henry||New Zealand Warriors|
|John Palavi||New Zealand Warriors|
|Luke Kelly||Parramatta Eels|
|Michael Morgan||North Queensland Cowboys|
|Dene Halatau||Wests Tigers|
|Keith Galloway||Wests Tigers|
|Ryan Hinchcliffe||Melbourne Storm|
|Brenton Lawrence||Manly Warringah Sea Eagles|
|Josh Starling||Manly Warringah Sea Eagles|
|Darius Boyd||Brisbane Broncos|
|Sam Tagataese||Cronulla Sharks|
|Tariq Sims||Newcastle Knights|
The NRL is in coalition with Lifeline, Kids Helpline, Headspace and the Black Dog Institute to implement a number of new initiatives being launched in May.