Tariq Sims understands just how dark life can get.
That’s why his role as a NRL State of Mind ambassador is especially important to him.
“I’m very proud to put my hand up and be an ambassador for the Knights,” he said on Tuesday following the announcement he was named as one of the NRLs 14 players across the game to take on the voluntary position.
“It’s definitely something I hold close to my heart. I’ve been through a bit of a tough time myself.
“I’ve had people around me at the right time to help me get through the dark days, the tough days and the days you really don’t want to get out of bed."
Sims has had a number of long-term injuries that have dealt brutal blows to his progress. In 2012 when playing for the North Queensland Cowboys, Sims broke his leg twice in the space of 12 months.
The talented forward spent six months with his leg in a cast before embarking on the arduous process of recovery.
“After that I had to learn pretty much how to walk, jog, run and sprint again and then obviously get the plays back down,” he said.
“It takes a lot of time effort and discipline as well. There’s a lot of outside influences that can lead people astray.
“Footy is a passion of mine as is helping players outside of football.
“It’s about getting that word across.
“I’m very proud to be associated with it and hopefully we can start helping players.”
The NRL has appointed its first game-wide State of Mind Ambassadors to help raise awareness about mental health issues in clubs and communities.
The ambassadors have been appointed following liaison with club career coaches, to support mental health, which is one of the country’s biggest health issues.
The engagement of elite players, like Sims, has been seen as critical in bringing a different attitude to the way mental health is addressed within the community.
With mental illness affecting one in two people nationally, almost every community has been touched by its impact in some way.
“It’s about improving and developing players’ life outside of football,” he added.
“There is an issue there, and being blokes, apparently we are big and tough and don’t like talking about it.
“It’s something that we are going to have to start talking about it because no one likes to see the end result.”
Sims says the focus doesn’t fall solely on players at the pinnacle of the NRL and encompasses players from the game’s junior level and throughout the ranks.
It also filters into the wider community.
“It’s a big issue and it’s always there, it’s something I want to shed some light on," he said.
“Blokes who have been doing it tough need to come forward to either their family members or people that they can trust to bounce ideas off because there’s no point to keeping it bottled up.
“It’s never any good.”