St George Illawarra Dragons and NRL Indigenous All Stars forward Joel Thompson has lent his support to the headspace Yarn Safe campaign, encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to seek help if they've got a lot going on.
Yarn Safe is the first youth-led national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health campaign, telling young people there's no shame in talking about problems affecting their mental health and wellbeing.
Thompson has discussed his own experiences in a new Yarn Safe video and believes speaking out can make a big difference.
"To be mentally strong now, and to be the position I'm in now, I had to work hard for it," Thompson said.
"I didn't have coping strategies when I was younger. I learnt by talking to my cousins, my family and my friends and being more open.
"There's no shame about speaking about issues or problems that you're going through. People are there to help you and support you in any way you need."
headspace and NRL State of Mind launched their Yarn Safe partnership on Wednesday in the lead up to the NRL All Stars match at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
headspace CEO Chris Tanti said the involvement of the NRL and players like Thompson is critical in breaking the stigma associated with seeking help.
"59 per cent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is under 25 and they have a higher incidence of mental health problems compared to non-Aboriginal young people. The statistics on suicide, self-harm and other severe mental health issues are appalling - yet they are not accessing appropriate services," he said.
"headspace wants to make a real difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. Yarn Safe was developed to empower young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to seek help at headspace or other appropriate mental health services.
"In the two years since Yarn Safe was launched, there has been a 32 per cent increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people attending headspace centres. This is a significant shift but there is much more work to be done."
Mr Tanti thanked the NRL and Thompson for their support of Yarn Safe: "I am proud headspace has had the opportunity to collaborate with NRL State of Mind to take yet another step to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people."
The primary focus of headspace is the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians. headspace helps 12-25 year olds going through a tough time through a national network of more than 87 headspace centres and online and telephone counselling service eheadspace.
headspace can help young people with general health, mental health, education and employment and alcohol and other drug services.
headspace was established and funded by the Commonwealth Government of Australia in 2006.
Visit headspace.org.au to find a headspace centre or access help.
NRL State of Mind
NRL State of Mind aims to reduce stigma around mental illness, create positive discussion and connection in communities, and stimulate help-seeking behaviours by improving mental health literacy.
Head to nrlstateofmind.com.au for further information