On 25th October 2011, the Parliamentary Rugby League Group joined with the Parliamentary Mental Health Group to welcome the rugby league State of Mind campaign to the Palace of Westminster and hear about their innovative work dealing with issues surrounding mental health of sportsmen and women.
Rugby League Group Chair, Greg Mulholland said “I am very pleased that politicians have the opportunity to hear from the State of Mind programme. Very few are able to experience life as a professional sportsperson and therefore understand the huge pressures they must face. This is not only an innovative campaign, it is vital.”
The State of Mind programme in rugby league arose following the sad death of England and Great Britain player Terry Newton and has been endorsed by players in a wide range of sports. As well as officers from the programme, Members of both Houses of Parliament were joined by Health Minister Paul Burstow and former Great Britain rugby league and Ireland rugby union international Brian Carney who has been a strong supporter of the programme.
“Athletes in all sports are susceptible to mental health issues and stressors like people in any walk of life. It is sometimes harder dealing with and talking about these issues when you are in the public eye and perceived to have “little to worry about”. It’s time to talk, time to use the goodwill of teammates, work colleagues, friends and family and let them know if you are struggling. The State of Mind campaign seeks to raise awareness around mental health, challenge perceptions and tackle problems amongst players, coaches and supporters at the earliest possible stage.”
The programme seeks to ensure a healthier environment with resultant positive benefits for the club, players, staff, supporters and the community which it serves. The programme works in partnership with the RFL, member clubs, amateur clubs, community organisations, NHS organisations, academic institutions and other health related organisations seeking to ensure that:
• Mental health prevention/awareness and well-being are priorities for the clubs;
• There are demonstrable improvements in the quality of mental health and the working life for players and rugby league community;
• Mental health is a co-ordinated and integrated part of strategic planning and policy throughout the sport of rugby league.
Charles Walker, Chair of the Mental Health Group, added his support saying “I was delighted to hear of the State of Mind programme and the work that it does in supporting clubs, their staff and their players. Mental health issues play a huge part in the wellbeing of the nation, its economy and its sporting excellence. It is very good to see that the sport of rugby league is addressing these issues head on.”