Mandurah Mustangs teams up with headspace to offer support for young players

Headspace community awareness officer Jeremy Tucker, and Mustangs committee members Brant Sachse and Kate Barron. Picture: Jon Hewson
Headspace community awareness officer Jeremy Tucker, and Mustangs committee members Brant Sachse and Kate Barron. Picture: Jon Hewson

THE Mandurah Mustangs Football Club spent last year in a state of mourning after they lost one of their young members to suicide.

It was this loss that prompted the Mustangs, in a regional first, to join up with the National Youth Mental Health Foundation headspace.

Phoenix Fa’alelea (16) had started to drift away from the footy club a few months before his death last March.

Mustangs’ committee member Brett Sachse said this was around the time Phoenix’s friends had moved up from juniors to seniors.

“They had no idea he was experiencing troubles,” he said.

“It directly affected a lot of our young guys.”

Committee member Kate Barron is passionate about the partnership with headspace.

Phoenix’s death affected her deeply and she teared up when she spoke about him.

“From our perspective, it’s like losing a brother,” she said.

“Our club wants to ensure it doesn’t happen again and that (our players) always have a safe place to come and get support, to get friendship and get parenting if they need that.”

Headspace community awareness officer Jeremy Tucker said young men were unlikely to get help with mental health issues.

“Suicide is the biggest killer of youth under 25,” he said.

“I’m so excited because we are constantly trying to break that stigma and barriers for young men.

“We get so caught up in this macho culture but there is help out there.”

Mr Sachse said young men could perceive that they are under a lot of pressure from society.

“It culminates over a period of time, it’s something that mounts up,” he said.

“We want this to go through every sporting club, obviously Pinjarra have been hit as well.”

Ms Barron said the Mustangs would be providing office space at the club for headspace.

Later this year they will break ground on a dedicated space at Rushton Park where headspace will be located permanently.

She said headspace assist young people in four core areas – mental health, physical health, work and study support, and alcohol and drug services.

“We are offering office space for counselling, computer access for employment, educational support and education for senior staff, coaches and parents,” she said.

“You don’t just need a healthy body and you need a healthy mind.

“Headspace will be visible at our football games and netball games for the junior and the senior club.

“It will be at training sessions as well so members don’t have to come in their own time.”

She said the initiative would not just benefit their club, but the other clubs they meet through competition.

People struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts are encouraged to call:

Headspace on 1800 650 890

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800

Suicide call back service on 1300 659 467

Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636