The AFL has formed a charity partnership with Lifeline Australia in an effort to tackle mental health issues across Australia.
With the announcement, comes a one-off donation from the AFL to Lifeline of $300,000 to support recruiting and training of volunteers, extending the Lifeline services and improving the overall ability to help those in need.
AFL’s CEO, Gillon McLachlan, said mental health and well-being is a growing focus for the league, and they are open to the prospect of holding a designated Mental Health Round following the 2020 AFL Premiership season.
“We are continuing to work as an industry to ensure we have the best processes and mental healthcare in place for our players, coaches and umpires in our elite competition and there is much work to be done,” McLachlan said.
“Through the leadership of Dr Kate Hall (AFL’s head of mental health and well-being) and Dr Ranjit Menon (AFL’s chief psychiatrist), we are also working on well-being initiatives for players and umpires in our pathway programs, administrators across the AFL and AFL clubs, and participants and volunteers at the community level.
“This isn’t just essential for our game, it’s essential to enhance the well-being of the wider community,” he said.
Speaking on the partnership between the AFL and Lifeline, Dr Kate Hall said this deal will help to promote mental health and well-being for football communities around Australia.
“Our football communities are impacted by mental health and suicide, and the AFL is part of this critical societal issue,” Dr Hall said.
“Responding to mental health issues and doing more to prevent the onset of mental health issues in young Australians is everyone’s responsibility.
“Through our support of Lifeline, we want to reduce the stigma of mental health issues and promote mental health and well-being for football communities.
“The AFL, together with the AFLPA (player’s association), has a responsibility to transform the management of mental health and well-being across the whole industry, and to move towards best practice in mental health prevention and early intervention,” she said.
Lifeline Australia’s CEO, Colin Seery, said the AFL’s holistic approach to the issue is a positive step in the right direction.
“The AFL’s decision to truly commit to the outcomes of the partnership by encompassing club, community engagement, education and, importantly, fundraising across the Lifeline network will make this partnership a game-changer,” Mr Seery said.
This partnership has come as mental health further emerges as one of the biggest issues in the AFL, with affected players including Collingwood stars Dayne Beams and Adam Treloar, Geelong player Jack Steven and Western Bulldog players Lin Jong and Tom Boyd.