ON the rugby league field – players are urged to work hard for each other; to pat team-mates on the back and to help pick them up when their head goes down after a dropped ball or wayward pass.
With the Intrust Super Cup’s Turn to Me round this weekend; players are also being asked to look out for their team-mates off the field as well and to let them know they have someone to talk to when things get tough.
Building on the back of last year’s successful launch, Queensland Rugby League will again work in partnership with beyondblue – who work to facilitate learning and increase awareness of depression and anxiety in Australia and to reduce the associated stigma – to present the now annual Turn to Me round.
This is an issue that has grown in prominence in rugby league in recent seasons.
As part of the Turn to Me initiative (round 26), all Intrust Super Cup clubs and referees will wear blue socks to raise awareness for beyondblue and this year; the lower grade sides (FOGS Cup and FOGS Colts Challenge) from each club will also participate. Each club will also be provided with wristbands to distribute amongst their playing group and supporters.
Off the field, there have been great steps taken to ensure the mental wellbeing of players is being addressed, with the whole game making an effort to recognise and respond to signs of distress – including via the NRL’s State of Mind campaign.
Under the guidance of QRL Welfare & Education Manager Murray Hurst, all Intrust Super Cup clubs have had a member of their organisation attend a mental health first aid course to ensure they are well equipped to recognise the signs and provide assistance if and when required.
This training will be expanded later this year, with additional training to be provided to the clubs with an eye to upskilling administrators and educating players.
Many clubs have also taken it upon themselves to support their own additional partnerships with other mental health awareness campaigns, including the Mackay Cutters with the R U OK? campaign and Burleigh Bears support of Livin (It Ain’t Weak to Speak).
In support of the round 26 round, the Turn to Me initiative will feature prominently in Sunday’s Channel 9 televised match between the Easts Tigers and Wynnum Manly Seagulls.
Isaak Ah Mau and Petero Civoniceva (former Dolphins who along with Ipswich Jets chairman Steven Johnson helped initiate the campaign) will again act as Turn to Me ambassadors. The powerful commercial they filmed together will be broadcast on Channel 9, GO! and GEM throughout the week in the lead-up to the round, highlighting the importance of speaking to someone in times of need, and emphasising that “tough times don’t last”.
It is hoped the advertisement will also act as a prompt for men and women to ask how their team-mates are feeling and to encourage them to seek help if they need to.
beyondblue’s work is aimed at achieving an Australian community that understands depression and anxiety, empowering all Australians, at any life-stage, to seek help. beyondblue raises awareness, reduces stigma and ensures people have access to the information they need to support recovery, management and resilience.
beyondblue info line: 1300 22 4636 or firstname.lastname@example.org