Central Highlands Rugby League will turn blue this weekend to spread the message that if you are feeling blue, there are many avenues of support to help you get back on track, or in this case, the footy field.

In conjunction with the NRL’s State of Mind campaign, all Central Highlands players and referees in Round 13 of the Purcell’s Engineering Men’s and Women’s competitions will wear blue socks in an attempt to tackle the stigma around mental illness and encourage all players, referees, support staff, volunteers and supporters to seek help by improving mental health literacy.

Building on from last year’s round, the Central Highlands Junior Rugby League have also joined the fight in tackling mental illness with all Under 17s players set to wear blue socks at local fixtures this weekend.

As the country’s biggest health issue, one in two Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime with suicide the largest killer of individuals aged 15-44.

Central Highlands Rugby League President Frank Lambley says the aim of the round is particularly important here in the Central Highlands, with the economic downturn affecting a majority of the Central Highlands.

“With the current unsteady workforce conditions and economic downturn, times are a little bit tough here at the moment,” Lambley said.

“These work pressures, combined with other family and social pressures may cause a need for some people in the region to seek help.

“Three days before our inaugural State of Mind round last year, we heard the sad passing of a Northern Territory miner in a mining camp and with the changing landscape of mine site accommodation, there are many great services out there that can help.

“I urge everyone to help one another during these trying times.”

Lambley hopes the importance of this week’s fixtures will start the conversation around the region.

“As the largest male and female sporting code in the Central Highlands, we really hope we can start the conversation and show our players, referees, support staff, volunteers and spectators that talking about your feelings shouldn’t be awkward.”

The NRL have formed a partnership with Kids Helpline, the Black Dog Institute, Headspace and Lifeline as part of its State of Mind campaign.

In extension to the NRL’s partnerships, the Central Highlands Rugby League have joined forces with Beyondblue this season to help deliver education and awareness to all involved.

More information about the NRL’s State of Mind program can be found online at www.nrlstateofmind.com.au.

*Last year, more than 150,000 people in Australia contacted Beyondblue about their concerns, both big and small, and you can too. Visit www.beyondblue.org.au or phone 1300 22 4636, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
*If you or someone you know is in need of immediate crisis or suicide prevention support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp.