The RFL is supporting a groundbreaking campaign to raise awareness of mental health issues and have designated Round 27 of the 2011 Engage Super League season as the State of Mind Round.
State of Mind is a partnership between the State of Mind programme board, Engage Super League clubs, the NHS and charitable organisations and aims to raise awareness of mental health issues within Rugby League.
The RFL’s Operations Director Emma Rosewarne said: “The welfare of players at all levels of the sport is one of the RFL’s highest priorities and we are pleased to support the State of Mind programme.
“It’s important that we work to raise awareness of mental health issues within Rugby League to help tackle these issues and designating the final round of Engage Super League fixtures as the State of Mind Round will help to raise the profile of the programme across the whole sport.”
The programme aims to link local Rugby League clubs, both professional and community, in pursuing community wellness, mental health improvement, and raising awareness of mental health issues.
The need for Rugby League to tackle mental health issues was focused by the tragic death of Terry Newton, a very popular figure within the sport who in the months prior to his death in September 2010 encountered many personal problems.
Warrington Wolves and England player Adrian Morley said: “As a former team-mate and personal friend of Terry I was shocked and devastated by his sad and untimely death at such a young age. He was a wonderfully gifted player and the sport of Rugby League is a lesser place for his loss.
“I was, therefore, encouraged when I was briefed on the programme that was being developed to raise awareness of matters of mental fitness and overall wellbeing. I was even more encouraged by the news that this was aimed at the sport of Rugby League at the elite level initially, but ultimately through all levels of Rugby League, professional and amateur, and into local Rugby League communities.
“I have now been asked by the leaders of the State of Mind programme to be their Player Ambassador. I am, of course, delighted to accept their offer and join them in this vital work. I will assist in whatever way I can both now and into the future to make the aims and objectives of the programme a reality.
“I call on all Rugby League clubs and communities to support this wonderful work. I also ask Super League clubs to seek and nominate a top player as their club ambassador for State of Mind.
“Rugby League should celebrate the high regard and love that its fans have for the sport and how it can manifest itself in the dedicated, committed and professional way that those who are leading this give of their time freely and the NHS and Rugby League Community work together to drive the programme forward. I fully support the aims and aspirations of this wonderful programme and all those involved and as such it has my total support and endorsement.”
Two former NHS directors and Rugby League enthusiasts, Ernie Benbow and Malcolm Rae, instigated the programme which aims to promote positive mental health in the sport in particular, but also seeks to reach a wider audience and help embed its message across Rugby League communities.
The key benefits expected from this programme include: Raised awareness of and ability to deal with mental health problems through education, awareness and training; Enhanced partnership working amongst key stakeholders of the RFL, players, clubs, coaches and other staff, NHS commissioners and providers and the rugby league communities; Recommendations leading to a sustainability plan for the programme of work.