Tuesday 18th February 2014

Learning How To 'Read The Play'

The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program has partnered with Riverina Bluebell to pilot the Read the Play (RTP) mental health education program in the 2014 Australian Football League (AFL) season in the Wagga & District and South West District Junior Football Leagues.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Wagga Wagga on 12 February in the presence of former AFL Greater Western Sydney coach Kevin Sheedy.

Read the Play is aimed at junior level of sports clubs to increase knowledge and awareness about mental health problems, local services available and increase confidence and skills in guiding youth to support services.

The program targets clubs in the Under-15 AFL and Under-15 netball clubs.

Read the Play was implemented in Geelong during 2007 and a sporting setting has proven to be effective in delivering a mental health literacy program.

MLHD Rural Mental Health Promotion Officer Merilyn Limbrick became aware of the program and together with colleague Helen Sheather met with representatives from the RTP Board in May last year.

“The Board was keen to expand the program and further develop the presentation to address the needs of rural NSW,” Merilyn said. “We believed this was a wonderful opportunity to engage young people by working directly with the local AFL clubs and commenced negotiations to implement the RTP in MLHD,” she said.

AFL NSW/ACT and AFL Riverina will support RTP by identifying and liaising with participating clubs.

Merilyn & Helen will deliver the program with local volunteer organisation Riverina Bluebell undertaking the responsibilities of the RTP Committee.

The aims of RTP are to help players:

  • Understand mental health problems
  • Know where to go for help
  • Feel more confident in seeking help
  • Support each other’s mental wellbeing

The sessions take the form of a games night by a mental health professional and the club’s player wellbeing officer.

“Youth mental health is a significant and growing health issue in Australia. One in four young people aged 12-25 years have a mental illness; however, only one in four affected young people receive help,” Merilyn said.

Download the media release here.