The NRL has appointed its first Game-wide State of Mind Ambassadors to help increase mental health literacy in its Clubs and the communities in which it operates.

NRL Community, Welfare & Education, has liaised with its Club’s Career Coaches to determine 14 ambassadors for this year’s campaign as the Game advances its efforts and support around Mental Health – one of the country’s biggest health issues

To hear the players talking about issues click here

NRL Head of Community, Adam Check, said the engagement of elite players was critical towards building a different attitude around the way mental health is addressed within the community.

“Mental illness affects 1 in 2 people nationally, with almost every community being touched by its impact in some way. As Australia’s largest sporting community, we have the ability to positively impact this issue, using our profile and our players to lead discussion, connect people and help break the silence on what can be a life-threatening matter.”

The State of Mind Ambassadors, who are current NRL squad members, had to self-nominate for the role, outlining their leadership and passion about making a difference in the area of mental health.

The nomination process took into account; reputation both on and off the field, a desire to contribute to the mental wellness of the community, participation in education in a relevant field and a willingness and capacity to participate in activities outside of the club football schedule.

“This is an active and ongoing engagement that positively impacts both the Rugby League and broader community.

“These ambassadors are players who want to make a difference in the area of health and wellbeing, many of whom have been personally affected by it and want to make some kind of difference.”, said Mr Check.

All ambassadors will receive Mental Health 1st aid training and qualifications, training and support to be able to deliver a mental health program designed by the Black Dog Institute, the opportunity to give back to their community in a meaningful way and become a leader in mental health awareness within their clubs.

Manly’s State of Mind Ambassador, Brenton Lawrence said he has always has the desire to give back to the community.

“In this role I will be able to learn more about the health issue and filter it to my community more effectively,” he said.

“It is very common to come across blokes under stress who are experiencing depression – but the key is being able to identify the difference between depression and just having a bad day.

“If I can help someone by just knowing a bit more then I think it’s worth the time.”

Wests Tigers State of Mind Ambassador, Dene Halatau discussed the importance of the State of Mind Ambassador role.

“Footy players are perceived as these big tough guys that get out on the field every week so if we shed a bit of light on mental health issues and show that it’s not a weakness, then it might give other people the motivation to seek help.

“If someone gets an injury they can see it and know it affects performance and it’s no different with your mental health. It’s about breaking down that stigma. It isn’t a weakness to have some mental health difficulties” he said.

The 2015 State of Mind ambassadors are;

Dan Hunt – St George Illawarra Dragons
Joel Thompson – St George Illawarra Dragons

Ben Henry – New Zealand Warriors
John Palavi – New Zealand Warriors

Luke Kelly – Parramatta Eels

Michael Morgan – North Queensland Cowboys

Dene Halatau – Wests Tigers
Keith Galloway – Wests Tigers

Ryan Hinchcliff – Melbourne Storm

Brenton Lawrence – Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Josh Starling – Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

Darius Boyd – Brisbane Broncos

Sam Tagataese – Cronulla Sharks

Tariq Sims – Newcastle Knights