Warriors forward John Palavi is one of 14 State of Mind ambassadors appointed by the NRL to increase awareness around mental health – one of the country's biggest health issues.
The engagement of elite players is critical in bringing a different attitude to the way mental health is addressed within the community.
"It's something that's quite big for me because I always want to work in the community, looking to help out our local clubs and local schools," Palavi says.
Mental illness affects one in two people nationally. Rugby league is in a unique position to have a positive impact on mental health by using its profile and players to lead discussion, connect people and help break the silence on what can be a life-threatening matter.
"At the Warriors we have Jerry Seuseu who is our welfare and education guy. Whenever the boys have problems or they are feeling down they know that he's there to talk to," Palavi said.
"You can sit down one-on-one, you don't need to tell anyone else. It's just good to sit down with someone who knows what you're going through."
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.
"It's easy for men to have that pride where they want to hide things and think they're all strong. But deep inside they're not going to find that strength to get through the day," Palavi said.
"It's good to let them know there are always people willing to help."
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.
The NRL is in coalition with Lifeline, Kids Helpline, Headspace and the Black Dog Institute to implement a number of new initiatives.
For more information visit nrlstateofmind.com.au