Mental Health is more than a state of mind
‘Good Sports Mental Health’ is a program that aims to raise mental health awareness and community capabilities in regional and rural areas (where awareness of these issues is particularly low) through working directly with community sport clubs.
‘Good Sports Mental Health’ evolved from the pilot program ‘Build Your Game’ launched in 2009 (GSGMH – Build Your Game) is delivered by the Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) with funding from beyondblue: the national depression initiative.
To help build awareness of depression and anxiety disorders, Build Your Game supports community sports clubs in how and when to respond to individual mental health issues as well as looking at the club environment in general. The aim is to increase support and reduce the stigma of mental illness or issues.
Four areas of support and intervention include:
- making information about mental health readily available,
- conducting a club-wide awareness raising activity,
- demonstrating how to access local services,
- training for key personnel in the club.
The program is regularly evaluated to appreciate the effect on how participating local communities identify and respond to mental health challenges.
Where is Build Your Game at work?
A total of 400 sport clubs throughout rural and regional Victoria and southern NSW were enlisted between 2009 and 2011 for the GSGMH – Build Your Game program from beyondblue and the ADF. A further partnership has since brought the project to Tasmania.
In Victoria participating clubs are provided with the support of a Project Officer from a regional Sports Assembly or Community Health Centre, while in NSW clubs receive the support of an Australian Drug Foundation Community Development Officer. The Project Officers and Community Development Officers help clubs to complete the interventions, log their achievements with the ADF, and arrange accreditation for clubs that complete GSGMH – Build Your Game.
Participating clubs follow a series of four mental health activities:
- Local Service Audit – to create a link between clubs and local services that provide mental health support.
- ‘Bluey’ Information Stand – to dispense information and booklets about mental health in club rooms
- Mental Health Awareness Training – to provide club representatives with a 3-hour MHAT course to enable them to identify signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety to be capable of providing referral.
- ‘Blue’ Themed Event – to raise club members’ awareness at an event within the club which often spurs local media coverage to take the message further and identify the club as a contact point for support.