Former NRL stars Clinton Toopi and Preston Campbell will deliver the NRL State of Mind program to a number of grassroots clubs across Central Queensland this week as part of the NRL's commitment to supporting the health and wellbeing of its rugby league community.
During the four-day trip - which coincides with this weekend's dedicated mental health round in the Central Highlands Rugby League - local rugby league clubs and schools in Emu Park, Yeppoon, Rockhampton, Blackwater, Tieri and Emerald will take part in informative education sessions developed in consultation with Australia's leading mental health experts.
In conjunction with the NRL's State of Mind program, all Central Highlands senior players and referees will wear blue socks this weekend (Round 15) to tackle the stigma around mental illness and encourage all players, referees, volunteers and supporters to seek help by improving mental health literacy.
At each game, teams will stand as one before shaking hands in a sign of unity that encourages reaching out to coach, player, mate or professional.
NRL Community Program Deliverer Clinton Toopi said he was looking forward to bringing important mental health messages to these communities.
"The goal of visiting these communities and delivering these sessions is to let everyone know that it is OK to talk and OK to admit you may be struggling," Toopi said.
"We, and the rugby league community are here to help you.
"I've seen first-hand the positive impact these sessions are having in local communities and grassroots clubs around the country.
"This program will make a real difference to the people here."
The NRL State of Mind program is supported by the Queensland Government to reach 220 grassroots rugby league clubs by 2019.
The next step for those clubs visited is to develop a mental health action plan, in collaboration with the NRL, that will provide simple strategies to lift the mental health of the whole club community.
The program is designed so local clubs can take ownership of their mental health awareness actions.
The key outcomes of the program are:
- Reduce the stigma around mental illness within the club and community;
- Increase mental health literacy across grassroots rugby league clubs;
- Stimulate help-seeking behaviours of club members and community.
For more information on the NRL State of Mind program, click here.