THE National Rugby League has made a concerted effort in recent years to raise much-needed awareness around mental health through their NRL State of Mind program.
The program, which aims to increase mental health literacy, reduce stigma and encourage positive conversation and connections, was delivered at Mount St Bernard College in Herberton as part of the NRL Road to Regions tour held on the Tablelands last week.
Former NRL player and current Project Officer for the NRL David Shillington presented the program, and noted the important role initiatives such as the NRL State of Mind program play in today’s society.
“This is a government funded program which is delivered in conjunction with our expert partners Headspace, Lifeline, Kids Helpline and the Black Dog Institute,” he said.
“It’s all about increasing everyone’s knowledge about mental health and encouraging help-seeking behaviours.
“What we find, particularly in men, is that they like to bottle things up and battle their problems on their own; however we want to change that so people feel they can speak up when they’re struggling.”
Being a former professional rugby league player, Mr Shillington has seen first-hand the trials and tribulations that come with being in the public spotlight.
“The State of Mind program has become a strong point of emphasis for the NRL as so many players throughout the league struggle with their own mental health issues,” he said.
“Professional rugby league players are no different; they are human beings as well.
“When you add a whole heap of money, fame and public scrutiny, sometimes players can be more subjected to problems surrounding mental health.
“And because the NRL has seen players throughout the league have their own battles, we want to use our platform to further deliver the message to the wider community that it’s okay to not be okay.”
Mr Shillington said the program is being delivered to 200 junior rugby league clubs in Queensland alone.
The NRL State of Mind program began in Queensland and is now being delivered in the Northern Territory, New South Wales and Western Australia thanks to their State Governments, which gives further indication of the serious approach we as a country are taking to tackling mental health.
Caption: Former NRL player David Shillington delivered a presentation on mental health as part of the NRL State of Mind program. The program is designed to raise awareness and improve education systems surrounding mental health.