2018 Good Sports Awards: Healthy Minds Club of the Year
Kingston Blues Netball Club are the 2018 Good Sports Healthy Minds Club of the Year.
This year, the Kingston Blues Netball Club from Tasmania has demonstrated not only what can happen when a mental health policy is implemented at a sports club — but how the ripple-on effects can be felt throughout the community when it is totally embraced and celebrated as a fundamental part of their core operations. It is for this reason that they are the 2018 Good Sports Healthy Minds Club of the Year.
Open and honest conversations about mental health in sport
When someone is experiencing poor mental health, it will usually translate into all aspects of their life. This includes their ability to engage in sport and participate in group activities. That’s why it’s so important for sports clubs to be equipped with the tools and resources needed. It allows them to better respond appropriately when a club member is showing signs of mental health issues.
“Over the past two years, we have seen a dramatic increase in issues amongst players surrounding mental health,” says Club Secretary Tania Mayne. “We created a welfare officer position on the committee to enable a professional, supportive pathway to deal with these. [However,] this year we recognised a need to further cement these practices within our club and undertook the Healthy Minds accreditation and implemented a mental health policy.”
Tania says completing the Good Sports course has allowed the club to open up dialogue surrounding mental health. Now they have much more open and honest conversations with their club members.
Raising awareness and understanding is policy
“After completing the Healthy Minds accreditation, we launched and implemented a mental health policy that was sent to all of our coaches, committee, players and parents,” she says. “This was followed by an online Facebook campaign using Good Sports resources, to further raise awareness and spread the message that we are an understanding and approachable club that has measures in place to support players with mental health issues.”
The results have been incredible, with many players coming forward to seek help from their club. Many members consider these players akin to family.
“This policy has allowed us to deal with a number of mental health cases across the club, including anorexia nervosa and bipolar disorder. As well as direct some help to players and parents where symptoms have been noticed by coaches or parents, such as self-harm,” Tania says.
The club is setting an example in their community that mental health shouldn’t be swept under the rug. In April this year, they organised and undertook a number of SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTy Sports Program sessions to promote mental health awareness in their community. Elite State League athletes and coaches across all age groups attended these sessions. The aim of this was to see a trickle effect down the line to the junior teams.
“Our State League teams took part in (and won!) the inaugural SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTy Shield in Round 18 of the RACTi State League Season,” Tania says. “This further raised awareness across the entire netball community and state, garnering a measure of media coverage.”