Northern NSW Football and Newcastle Netball Association have come together to encourage players, volunteers and supporters to take time out and connect with one another.
Initially announced in March and scheduled for July, Mental Health Awareness Round was initiated by Northern NSW Football to bring together winter sports to help break down the stigma of mental illness.
Northern NSW Football CEO David Eland says Mental Health Wellbeing is a priority for the organisation and especially its Premier Clubs.
“At our season launch in March, all 28 Premier clubs signed a pledge to foster a culture which is inclusive, supportive and respectful and to take care of the mental health
wellness and overall wellbeing of players, coaches, volunteers and supporters,” Eland said.
“The support received from the clubs surrounding the initiative was absolutely outstanding, I was blown away and pleased to see the positive reactions and proactivity towards the pledge and removing the stigma sometime linked to discussing mental health.”
Newcastle Netball Association Community Engagement Officer Monique Smith said it is wonderful to work with other winter codes to spread a message which is essential to the entire community, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sport, especially team-based sports such as netball and football, are proven to be fundamental to overall health and well-being,” Smith said.
“It is essential that our members here at Newcastle Netball Association, as well as our wider netball community, are able to identify changes in behaviour and know where to access assistance and support.
“Partnering with Northern NSW Football, through the Mental Health Awareness Round, will enable Newcastle Netball Association to provide strategies for our clubs and members to cope and connect; and most importantly to take the time to reach out and check in on one another.”
This is where Lifeline comes in.
Lifeline Regional General Manager HNECC Julie Wicks said there are many groups doing great work in the community to support mental health. Ms Wicks applauded the different sporting codes coming together to promote mental wellbeing across the board.
“The sheer numbers of people who can be reached through winter sports is wonderful and there has never been a more challenging time in our communities than through this pandemic to support a message of ‘connecting’ and reducing the stigma of talking about our mental health,” Wicks said.
“Lifeline’s vision is for an Australia that is free of suicide and we will continue through COVID-19 and beyond to work tirelessly to keep our communities safe. We know that connection is key, Lifeline encourages each and every one in our community to reach out and check in on friends and families, workmates and sports mates.”
Headed up by Belmont-Swansea United Football Club player Luke Conners, Talk2MeBro partnered with Northern NSW Football at the season launch in March.
At the event Luke reflected on his past and told the room of how losing those close to him of suicide inspired him to speak to sporting teams and school groups about what they can do to best support one-another and identify behaviours of when someone needs help.
“Whilst we have the ‘bro’ in our title, Talk2MeBro works to breaking done the stigma of mental health amongst any gender and encourages teammates and colleagues to be open to listening to each other,” Conners said.
Since the season launch in March, Talk2MeBro has visited a number of football clubs throughout Northern NSW and hopes to visit many more before the 2020 Season is out.
To have talk2mebro attend your club contact Luke Conners: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mental Health Awareness Round is scheduled for 12-13 September
If you are feeling over-whelmed, please connect your GP or reach out to Lifeline by phone 13 11 14 or text between 6pm-midnight (AEST) on 0477 13 11 14.