NRL's State of Mind Education Session begins process of reducing stigma around mental health for Moree's rugby league clubs

Around 30 people attended the State of Mind workshop on Friday night. Photo: Matt Francis.
Around 30 people attended the State of Mind workshop on Friday night. Photo: Matt Francis.

The NRL hosted its State of Mind Education Session in Moree on Friday night, to try to start a process of improving the mental wellbeing of local rugby league clubs.

The program is sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Health and was developed around six years ago in partnership with Lifeline, Kids Helpline, Headspace and the Black Dog Institute.

Former NRL player and current ambassador and mental health advocate Preston Campbell visited the region to deliver the workshop which aims to educate and reduce the stigma around mental health.

"I think rugby league at the moment is just trying to make a footprint and be a leader in this space," Campbell said.

"There are a lot of great organisations out there that are doing great work in it and rugby league is just trying to play their part in it and make that contribution back to the community.

"We found that a lot of the players and people involved in the game are struggling in this space so rugby league being rugby league, they can be central to a lot of great messages.

"A lot of people associate with the game and they allow the game into their lives."

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A group of around 30 people attended the workshop, which was a mix of parents, club officials and players.

The session is just an introduction into what mental health might look like within rugby league clubs.

"We're not experts in the area," Campbell said.

"We do partner with experts but it's about giving people an idea of what maybe to look out for.

Campbell said it's important to keep talking about an issue which perhaps hasn't been talked about enough in the past.

"The more we talk about it, the more understanding there is around it, the more lives I think we can save," he said.

"It's not just about saving lives which is very important, it's about living a lifestyle where they can make a contribution to their community."

Campbell said it takes a lot of work, but he's hopeful of seeing the program make a difference in this area after seeing success in other areas the workshop has been held in.

The workshop begins the conversation, after that it's up to the clubs to proceed further and continue to educate themselves.

"We talk about mental health, that word 'mental' scares people off," Campbell said.

"It's really difficult to get your foot in the door with anyone in the community but being associated with rugby league they allow that opportunity to get in.

Campbell knows it can be scary but it's just about starting the conversation.

"If you can push through that barrier of fear there's a life of education, a life of learning, one that will take you on a beautiful journey where you can benefit so many people and at the same time, live a fulfilling life.

"And that's really what it's all about."