DESTIGMATISING mental health issues is the goal behind a new program being offered to WA rugby league players, including those from the Fremantle Roosters Rugby League Club.
The National Rugby League (NRL) has combined with the State Government to offer the new health awareness initiative to WA’s 4000 players.
The State of Mind program aims to encourage good mental health among players through a larger support network, more support services connected to individual clubs and tips to better manage mental health.
Fremantle Roosters’ coaching co-ordinator Malcolm McGivern said having been a part of the club for 35 years, and with a son of his own playing the game, he saw first hand the impact sport had in promoting good physical and mental health.
“I think sport in a fun way teaches our players life skills that will help them in everyday life like working in teams, working hard to achieve goals and dealing with physical and mental challenges and overcoming them,” he said.
“The way our club currently promotes mental health among players is by providing an encouraging and caring environment where kids feel safe, can have fun and just be kids.
“It’s a kids first mentality with the aim of seeing our kids improve, rather than win at all costs, that we think will promote an environment where our kids can flourish.
“I think this is a fantastic initiative from the NRL which will allow clubs like ours to receive some formal training to help identify if we could be doing anymore to assist the mental wellbeing of our players or even develop new skills to help spot if any of our players are doing it tough.”
Mental Health Minister Roger Cook said the program was similar to those previously offered to football and netball players.
“This program will help to give young people the tools and strategies they need to understand and acknowledge mental health and mental illness and to know what to do if they or someone they know needs help,” he said.
“Young people experience the highest prevalence and incidence for mental illness across the lifespan so it is critical we give them support and information early.
“Grassroots sporting and community organisations can play an important role in helping communities to stay healthy, both physically and mentally.”