Burleigh Bears look to NRL's State of Mind Program to educate players
Targeting younger age groups is a key component of the NRL's State of Mind program and the Burleigh Bears emphasised the importance of mental health for their young players as part of their "Well-being Week".
Partnering with Headspace, the NRL's game development team, led by former Kiwi international Clinton Toopi, delivered the educational session on June 20 to Burleigh's under-19 squad.
Bears junior club president Jason Brown, who is in his first year in the role, told NRL.com it was a vital concept to embrace at the club which has around 620 registered players.
"It's very important that we are targeting the younger age groups," Brown said.
"Mental health doesn't discriminate, it doesn't just happen all of a sudden because you're 22 or 23, it happens at any age and to anyone.
"I think society has changed a fair bit where we probably need to open up the eyes of the younger ages to how serious of an issue this is and the implications it can have.
"Although there are some serious topics to talk about, I think that if it's presented in the right format and right way, then it can only benefit everybody."
Brown said it was important players felt comfortable making use of the resources that the NRL offers, including the game's State of Mind Program.
"It's a week for ensuring our kids know that there are avenues or a place to go should they feel they need someone to talk to," Brown said.
"If the NRL are providing these sorts of facilities I think we should embrace them and grow with them.
"And if there was something to happen then hopefully they feel more equip to deal with the situation."
Titans centre Dale Copley is the ambassador for the Gold Coast's State of Mind Program and was involved in delivering the session at Burleigh.
Copley said he felt a responsibility to highlight the effects poor mental health could have on people while teaching players to be able to recognise the signs within themselves, their family and their peers.
"It's not something that has affected me or any of my close family or friends," Copley said.
"But I've seen the impact it's had on the rugby league community with a couple of young guys taking their life as a result so it's something that I wanted to through my weight behind.
"I feel like I can do my bit in educating these kids on what to look out for and raising awareness around it so that they are looking after each other and looking after themselves."
The State of Mind team delivered another session the evening before the annual Nines Tournament in the remote outback town of Bedorie, where up to 10 rugby league clubs were in attendance. As well as taking the session, Toopi participated in the tournament as part of an NRL team.
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