Looking Out For Your Teammates
At Good Sports, we know that local sporting clubs can have an important impact on a person’s sense of belonging. An inclusive and supportive club environment is what we call a ‘protective factor’ – something that can positively influence a person’s health outcomes.
As a local club, teammate, coach or friend – you can show you care and have an important impact. It’s as easy as starting a conversation, or asking the question ‘are you okay?’
Every year, around one in five Australians will experience a mental illness. Many people will feel anxious and depressed. Some will feel helplessly alone. By understanding more about mental illness, and exploring some of the ways your club can help, you can go a long way in reducing the harm from mental illness within your community.
What is mental illness?
Mental illness refers to a range of illnesses – no two are the same. Generally, these illnesses are health problems that significantly affect how a person feels, thinks, behaves and interacts with people. In Australia, the most common mental illnesses include anxiety disorders, depression, psychosis, substance abuse disorders and eating disorders.
While we can all feel down from time to time, a mental illness is a little different. People experiencing mental illness are often so overwhelmed by tension, fear or sadness that they can have difficulty maintaining relationships and carrying out day-to-day activities. For some, even getting out of the bed in the morning will feel impossible.
How can my sporting club help?
Local clubs can have an enormous positive impact on members. The right club can provide a sense of belonging and connectedness that drives friendship, positivity and good health.
The Good Sports Healthy Minds program (available in Tasmania) helps local sporting clubs to get on the front foot when it comes to tackling mental health issues.
Why not use some of the strategies that we recommend to Healthy Minds clubs to kick-start the conversation about mental health at your club:
Have the conversation
At Good Sports, we recommend that clubs begin simply by starting the conversation. By talking about mental health, clubs can play a part in increasing visibility of the issue – helping players and members to understand that it’s okay to not feel okay.
Keep referral information on hand
As a sporting club, you don’t need to have all of the answers. Your role is to provide support and nurture a positive environment where your members feel safe to ask the club for help. In saying this, it is important to be switched on to the issues. If somebody doesn’t seem themselves, or perhaps asks for help directly, be prepared to assist them with relevant support services – Beyond Blue is a great place to start.
Champion mental health
Make mental health front of mind throughout the entire season.
- Put posters on the clubroom walls.
- Ask coaches to talk to their players about the issue.
- Engage your local health services to run a mental health workshop.
- Talk about mental health on the club website and social media pages.
- Hold a mental health round.
- Create club awards that champion club members who are inclusive and support the positive mental health of their teammates.
Head here to find out more about Good Sports and the Healthy Minds program.
If you, a teammate or a loved one needs support, contact Beyond Blue. They’re available to help 24 hours a day.