North West clubs kick goals for mental health awareness

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Pilbara rugby league club representatives with Health Minister Roger Cook, centre, at the NRLWA Ken Allen Medal awards night.
Camera IconPilbara rugby league club representatives with Health Minister Roger Cook, centre, at the NRLWA Ken Allen Medal awards night. Credit: NRLWA

Rugby league clubs from across the North West have been recognised for their efforts to promote greater mental health awareness within their communities at an awards night for the sports’ State governing body.

Representatives from six North West clubs travelled to Perth last Friday to attend the NRLWA’s Ken Allen Medal Awards, where they received awards in recognition of completing the State of Mind program which aims to foster better health awareness within clubs and communities.

The North West clubs represented more than half of the eight award recipients on the night and included the Karratha Junior Rugby League, Karratha Roosters, Wickham Wasps, South Hedland Cougars Juniors, South Hedland Cougars Seniors and Broome Jets.

North West rugby league coordinator Nic Rolle said the North West’s involvement in the program had taken off since the State of Mind 9s Carnival in Karratha in June, a competition involving all clubs in the region.

The carnival also featured appearances by State of Mind ambassadors and former NRL players Clinton Toopi and Preston Campbell.

“I think mental health awareness is such a big thing for kids living in the Pilbara,” he said.

“There’s a lot of things they run into daily that they wouldn’t experience in different environments and they don’t necessarily have that support network around them all the time as well.

“By educating our coaches and club committees, it gives kids a real family feel within the clubs of being able to talk to different people.”

South Hedland Cougars Juniors committee member Kesi-Maree Prior, who also works in the mental health field, said developing children’s awareness could make them more resilient and comfortable with opening up.

“Given the high rates of mental health conditions and suicide we have throughout the Pilbara and Kimberley, it’s amazing to see so many rugby league clubs getting on board and promoting mental health change, because it can only help and make a positive difference in the lives of so many,” she said.

NRLWA operations man-ager Tony Crowe said the State of Mind program was an important new initiative.

“Our clubs work with people within their communities on all different levels and mental health is an issue that we’ve all got to face at some stage, so having our clubs in a position where they can deal with that and support their members is ideal,” he said.

Rolle said the North West clubs would continue to implement the program’s outcomes into the future.

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