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AFL Commits To Mental Health With Headspace Partnership

The AFL has announced a new partnership with Australia’s leading youth mental health organisation, Headspace.

The partnership will see the AFL and Headspace work to build mental fitness and wellbeing skills in the next generation of AFL and AFLW footballers before they reach an AFL or AFLW list.

AFL head of mental health and wellbeing, Dr. Kate Hall, said the partnership will provide young players in the talent pathway program with tools to help protect their wellbeing in their quest to play the game at the elite level.

“This partnership addresses one of the crucial focus areas for the AFL, preventing mental health challenges by building protective factors for wellbeing, earlier in a player’s life,” Dr. Hall said.

“We have an incredible opportunity to educate and empower young players who are connected to our game.

“Together with headspace, we will develop and embed a curriculum across the talent pathways to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people striving to play the game at the highest level.

“This early investment in the future leaders of our game will benefit the health and wellbeing of our football community in the long term,” she said.

Headspace CEO, Jason Trethowan, said this partnership will help strengthen the work Headspace does at addressing the stigma around mental illness in young Australians.

“It’s critically important for young people to know about the ways in which they can manage their mental health, support their peers and also how they can get support,” Trethowan said.

“A third of young Australians are currently reporting high or very high levels of psychological distress and we know that if young people experiencing mental health challenges access support early, the more likely they are to achieve better outcomes.

“This partnership with the AFL provides a great opportunity to continue to address and reduce the stigma around mental illness and in doing so, ensure young people and their families have the tools and resources to navigate potentially challenging times,” he said.

Collingwood’s, Brodie Grundy, said the opportunity to provide young footballers an opportunity to develop their lives away from the game “is the best part”.

“The importance of a holistic approach to our talent pathway cannot be overstated,” Grundy said.

“The partnership will create provisions for mental health literacy within our talent pathways as we develop and up-skill our next generation of leaders.

“With a focus on preventative strategies, reducing mental health stigma and promotion of help-seeking behaviours we can empower boys and girls to be agents of change in their own lives and within the community.

“On-field football development in our talent pathways is fantastic but giving young people tools to flourish in their own lives, away from the game, is the best part,” he said.