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Vodafone Warriors and Le Va reaching out to clubs

Vodafone Warriors wellbeing staff and club partner Le Va have resumed their programme of workshops set up to support the Auckland Rugby League’s clubs.

The Marist Saints were the first to take up the Auckland-wide invitation to attend the workshops which are being held at the Vodafone Warriors’ premises at Mount Smart Stadium.

A group of 35 players from Marist’s under-14 and under 16 teams were brought to Mount Smart Stadium on the Vodafone Warriors’ bus to participate in Le Va’s ‘Mental Wealth’ workshop.

“The purpose of the workshop is to not only grow awareness of the need for mental health but to also give players the tools and skills they may need to recognise mental health issues and then to respond with confidence,” said Vodafone Warriors wellbeing and education manager Jerry Seuseu.

“These are important skills not only as team-mates but as people and leaders in the community. One in four Pasifika people experience mental health challenges compared to one in five for the rest of our community. This is a real challenge for the Maori and Pasifika community as more than 40 per cent of NRL players are Maori or Pasifika with a higher ratio at the Vodafone Warriors.

“It is important for us as a club to support the programme, to give our grass roots community the same tools and skills we give to our elite NRL players.”

Seuseu said the partnership with Le Va works well to de-stigmatise the conversation around mental health.

“A mental injury is the same as a physical injury, although it is often unseen,” said Seuseu.

“A mental injury needs as much care in treatment as a physical injury for a full and active recovery.”

As former NRL players, Vodafone Warriors wellbeing staff Seuseu, Ben Henry and Jerome Ropati are well-credentialled and experienced in the NRL space while they’re also actively involved with their Auckland clubs.

As well as working on their mental fitness with the mental health workshop delivered by Le Va, players and staff attending the workshops are also put through a workout led by Vodafone Warriors wellbeing and education managers Henry and Ropati.

Marist workshop

The Vodafone Warriors’ links with Marist go back a long way with many of the club’s former players coming through the Saints’ system.

One of them was Francis Meli, who is now with Marist in a strategic management role while also coaching the club’s Fox Memorial team.

Among those attending the workshop was former Cronulla-Sutherland prop Jason Williams, one of Marist’s coaches.

The younger players are pupils from Mount Albert Grammar School, Lynfield College, Mount Roskill Grammar, Green Bay High School, Kelston Boys’ High School and St Paul’s College.

Seuseu reiterated all Auckland clubs are invited to attend the workshops which tackle life’s physical and mental challenges.

About Mental Wealth

Le Va coordinator Mark Tuifao says mental health is a state of mind.

“Everyone has mental health, similar to how we have our own physical health,” he said.

“Our mental health is an important part of our overall health and wellbeing. We have good mental health when we have positive relationships, are able to cope with everyday stress, able to work or study and develop our own potential.

“Poor mental health can include high stress levels, general unhappiness with life, and ongoing low levels of depression and anxiety. Some people who experience poor mental health for a long time, trauma, or who are highly distressed, may meet the criteria for being diagnosed with a mental illness.”

Tuifao said learning ways to look after mental health creates what he calls call “Mental Wealth”. 

It strives to make people more resilient and to improve overall wellbeing.

“It also means you are better equipped to support your friends and whānau.”

Tuifao said the Mental Wealth workshop is intended for people who want to:

  • Be better informed on what the facts are about mental health
  • Gain an understanding of how to check in on a mate or a family member
  • Know what to do or say in challenging situations
  • Know how to look after yourself and your own personal wellbeing
  • Access help and find confidential support that is available 24/7