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State of Mind blitz on track for biggest ever reach

Local Rugby League clubs across Queensland are about to be visited by leading NRL Community speakers as part of the code's latest State of Mind blitz that will officially kicked off last week.

The program, designed to help raise awareness and tackle the stigma around depression and anxiety, is set to be the code's largest-ever campaign with more than 100 clubs throughout Queensland to be delivered education sessions across five weeks.

Former Jillaroos forward Renae Kunst will help deliver key messages in Cairns and surrounding regions while ex-NRL players David Shillington, Nathan Friend, Clinton Toopi and Antonio Winterstein will share the workload in other parts of the sunshine state.

"Being a North Queensland girl myself I'm really passionate about spreading the message about good mental health," Kunst told

"Mental health affects so many of us in the rugby league community. The more information we can spread to our coaches, players and volunteers the better clubs are going to strive.

"We're passionate about going through what is good mental health and signs to look out for if a person is going through a tough time.

"That all ties in with our message of 'Don't stay on the sideline' and we're asking people if they notice behavioural changes with their players or volunteers, to ask them if they're OK and encourage them to have some discussion around what could be bothering them."

The Townsville region in particular were left saddened between 2013 and 2015 when two young rising Cowboys players took their own lives following private battles with depression.

The lives of Alex Elisala and Regan Grieve continue to be remembered across the wider rugby league community and Kunst said the program delivered to everyone willing to participate.

"The biggest barrier I've found is getting people in the room," Kunst said.

"Once we're putting them through the education the feedback we get is outstanding. If I can get people over the age of 18 to come down in Cairns and surrounding regions I can guarantee they'll take something away.

"For me personally I haven't been affected by mental health but we all know someone who has lost their battle through depression and anxiety.  

"I love the game of rugby league but more importantly I love the platform that allows us to create better people.  If we can show as a game we want to make a difference in this space then what a vehicle we have to educate people.

"It's important we celebrate the great things about rugby league and the social aspect is the main part of playing team sport.

"We've got to make sure we enjoy that and the surroundings."

Help is available 24/7 for anyone who has mental health issues by calling Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14

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