For the past nine years the NRL has been working alongside some of Australia’s top mental health experts to provide a range of workshops and resources, and using some of the game’s biggest stars to help deliver them to rugby league communities across the country, through the NRL State of Mind program.
Mental illness is Australia’s single biggest health issue, impacting almost one in two people, and through the mantra of “In footy and in life, be there for an offload”, the program promotes the fact that, just like an offload can change a game of rugby league, a conversation change a day or even a life when it comes to mental health.
The organisations have formed two key programs aimed at achieving positive outcomes in the area, with the State of Mind Grassroots program (18+), which is facilitated by current and retired NRL and NRLW players, using rugby league language to convey positive mental health and wellbeing messages.
The four-step process is targeted towards senior players, club administrators, coaches and managers of grassroots rugby league clubs and includes a 90-minute workshop involving on and off field activities to provide the participant with the knowledge and confidence to provide support to a person experiencing mental health problems.
State of Mind Get in the GAAME (13-17) are youth focused 90-minute standalone workshops, again delivered using rugby league language, with on and off field activities designed to help participants understand the importance of good mental health and recognize it is an area they can have an impact on.
With the support of the NSW Government, the NRL State of Mind program reaches out into regional NSW, while the Australian Government provides assistance in supporting Indigenous mental health, connected with the annual NRL All Stars.
Among the stars behind the campaign are Indigenous legend Preston Campbell, Rabbitohs winger Josh Mansour and former NRL players Joel Thompson and Clinton Toopi.