The NRL has announced the NRL State of Mind ambassadors for 2016, with representatives from all 16 clubs, the Harvey Norman Jillaroos and Touch Football Australia part of the campaign to reduce stigma around mental illness.
Newcastle Knight Dane Gagai was named among the 2016 ambassadors and joins teammate Tariq Sims who embraced the campaign in 2015.
Now in its third year, the NRL State of Mind program aims to encourage players, clubs and communities to speak up and seek help if they are experiencing any form of difficulty or difference in their mood.
The ambassadors have all nominated themselves for the roles – because they want to assist with the program.
One in two Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, with suicide the biggest killer of individuals aged 15 – 44.
NRL Head of Community, Adam Check said the program would evolve further next year, with the support of the code’s expert partners, Lifeline Australia, headspace, Kids Helpline and the Black Dog Institute.
“Together, our partners and ambassadors have spent time listening and actively participating at community and club forums across several States,” Mr Check said.
“We know that as a sport, we have a big voice and responsibility to encourage all Australians to recognise that it’s ok if you feel vulnerable – there is help available.
“To have a self-nominated ambassador at every club next year goes to show how serious our game, our players and our clubs are about mental wellbeing as part of their culture.”
In addition to new ambassadors, the NRL State of Mind program will retain 10 incumbent ambassadors from 2015.
After extensive consultation with coalition partners and junior clubs, an NRL State of Mind grassroots program has also been developed and will be delivered to select junior clubs throughout 2016.
The aim of the program is to:
• Reduce the stigma around mental health within clubs and communities
• Increase mental health literacy across grassroots Rugby League clubs
• Stimulate help seeking behaviours amongst club members and communities
Current NRL State of Mind ambassador, Darius Boyd said more and more players were talking about their feelings with their families and friends, with mental illness no longer something to be kept bottled up.
“Mental illness can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. It’s not a Rugby League issue; it’s a society issue,” Mr Boyd said.
“It’s important that we all work together to encourage people of all ages to speak out when they are feeling vulnerable.”
To learn more about the program and if you or anyone you know would like support, visit www.nrlstateofmind.com.au
2016 NRL State of Mind ambassadors
Moses Mbye – Canterbury Bulldogs
Iosia Soliola – Canberra Raiders
Joseph Paulo – Cronulla Sharks
David Shillington – Gold Coast Titans
Dane Gagai – Newcastle Knights
Suaia Matagi – Penrith Panthers
James Segeyaro – Penrith Panthers
David Tyrrell – South Sydney Rabbitohs
Boyd Cordner – Sydney Roosters
Dale Finucane – Melbourne Storm
Jeff Robson – New Zealand Warriors
Matt Ballin – Wests Tigers
Ruan Sims – Australian Jillaroos
Samantha Hopkin – Touch Football Australia
2015 NRL State of Mind ambassadors – continuing in 2016
Darius Boyd – Brisbane Broncos
Sam Tagataese – Cronulla Sharks
Brenton Lawrence – Manly Warringah Sea-Eagles
Josh Starling – Manly Warringah Sea-Eagles
Tariq Sims – Newcastle Knights
Michael Morgan – North Queensland Cowboys
Luke Kelly – Parramatta Eels
Joel Thompson – St George Illawarra Dragons
John Palavi – New Zealand Warriors
Dene Halatau – Wests Tigers