Health and Mental Health Minister, Roger Cook, has announced a new three-year $855,000 partnership between Healthway and the West Australian Country Football League (WACFL) to build club capacity and support for mental health.
The Think Mental Health club program will be rolled out across all 25 country football leagues from the Kimberley to Esperance, engaging about 130,000 Western Australians.
The partnership will provide opportunities to build football clubs’ capacity to respond to mental health concerns, and create environments that support social inclusion and connectedness.
About 12,500 players and 5,000 volunteers who help facilitate regional football each weekend in Western Australia will be central to the program delivery.
“Footy clubs, particularly in rural and regional areas, are a hub for community connectedness and provide a valuable setting for people feeling low to seek and receive support,” Health and Mental Health Minister, Roger Cook said.
“Educating people to recognise mental health problems at this level is vital for early intervention.”
As there is a link between alcohol and drug use and mental health, clubs will also be supported to develop strategies regarding responsible service of alcohol and reducing alcohol and drug-related harm, with support from the Australian Drug Foundation’s Good Sports WA and regional prevention stakeholders.
Another benefit of the partnership is the removal of alcohol advertising and promotions from clubs, ovals and uniforms across the 25 country football leagues.
“The statistics show that people from country areas, particularly men, are more likely to suffer poor mental health outcomes, so it is important we continue to develop positive ways to provide community-level mental health support,” Sport and Recreation Minister, Mick Murray said.
“Country footy clubs are so often the cornerstones of their communities, so this partnership presents a unique opportunity to deliver positive mental health support directly to people in the regions.”
Think Mental Health is a State-wide public education campaign for all Western Australians.
The current campaign targets men aged 25-54 and their family and friends with messages about the importance of talking and listening, and that mental health issues can affect anyone.