Vodafone Warriors Ben Henry and John Palavi are among 14 players the NRL has appointed as its first game-wide State of Mind ambassadors to help increase mental health literacy in clubs and communities.
The ambassadors have been appointed following liaison with club career coaches to support mental health, one of the biggest health issues in New Zealand and Australia.
NRL head of community Adam Check said the engagement of elite players was critical in bringing a different attitude to the way mental health is addressed within the community.
“Rugby league is in a unique position to have a positive impact on mental health by using our profile and players to lead discussion, connect people and help break the silence on what can be a life-threatening matter,” he said.
The State of Mind ambassadors volunteered for the roles because they wanted to make 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 the club football schedule.
“These ambassadors are players who want to make a difference in the area of health and wellbeing and many of them have been personally affected by it,” said Check.
All ambassadors will receive mental health first aid training and qualifications, training and support to be able to deliver a mental health programme 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.
The 2015 State of Mind ambassadors are:
Dan Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Joel Thompson (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Ben Henry (Vodafone Warriors)
John Palavi (Vodafone 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)