Queensland Rugby League wellbeing staff and Support Squad volunteers will be better equipped than ever to support members of the rugby league community after pairing with two new partners.
Mind Challenge is now delivering mental health education training for Support Squad volunteers, while White Cloud Foundation is providing early intervention telehealth services.
QRL state wellbeing manager Trish Walding said it was a “huge win” to have these services to look after all those involved in the game.
She said Mind Challenge, which has been working with the NRL for the past five years, was particularly supportive of the Support Squad program.
“They know that having more people mental health first aid trained in the rugby league community will help in creating help seeking behaviours, getting people who might be struggling access to support via our referral system more quickly than if there was no one there to assist,” Walding said.
White Cloud Foundation’s telehealth services will be a key pillar of reaching people in grassroots footy in all parts of the state who are struggling with their mental health.
“We have over 80 new Support Squad volunteers with more coming in every day, that’s 80 more people that want to help, that’s hundreds more people being helped and having the opportunity to use professional services like White Cloud to help them is vital,” Walding said.
White Cloud Foundation general manager Karen Gallagher said sport was the ideal vehicle for delivering mental health messaging and a link with QRL would help reach a huge volume of people engaged in the game.
“Our services are geared to helping people in the earlier stages of depression and/or anxiety to prevent it from escalating and potentially leading to suicide,” Gallagher said.
“We also know that there are many factors that can lead to these conditions, so they therefore need to be treated from multiple angles in order for a person to recover completely and build resilience for the future.
“We hope to remove stigmas attached to mental unwellness and normalise it so people feel comfortable in talking about it and seeking help.”
Mind Challenge owner and trainer Claire Clifford said the organisation shared common values with QRL and hoped to provide long-term benefits.
The Wellbeing Champion program being rolled out has been designed specifically for rugby league and will train Support Squad volunteers in units covering mental health first aid, crisis intervention and mentoring.
Walding encouraged more people to register for Support Squad and be equipped with the tools to help them make a difference in the community.
“When you are able to help someone change a life by contacting the right services to help in someone’s journey, there’s not many better feelings than that,” Walding said.
“I believe all of our Support Squad volunteers know what that feels like, to be on either the receiving or giving end of that, and that’s what drives people to want to be a part of our squad.”
Register for Support Squad here.