Read the Play to be piloted in Murrumbidgee

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.

Read The Play

L to R: Merilyn Limbrick (RAMHP), Chris Wilson (Riverina Bluebell), Jason McPherson (AFL NSW/ACT), Kevin Sheedy and Helen Sheather (RAMHP).

In an attempt to address this issue, a program known as ‘Read the Play’ (RTP) was implemented in Geelong, Victoria during 2007 to increase mental health literacy and help seeking behaviour in young people. This was successfully achieved through the provision of a mental health literacy training program to key representatives within the local netball and football clubs.  

Merilyn Limbrick & Helen Sheather, RAMHP’s Rural Mental Health Promotion Officers in Murrumbidgee, became aware of the program and met with representatives from the Kempe RTP Board in May 2013. They also reviewed a RTP Games Night that was held at Modewarre Football Club in Geelong.

Discussions with the Board identified opportunities to expand the program and further develop the presentation to address the needs of communities in rural NSW.

“This program provides us with a wonderful opportunity to engage young people by working directly with the local AFL clubs, and following our discussions with the Board we have commenced negotiations to implement the RTP in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District,” Ms Limbrick said.

The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) have partnered with Riverina Bluebell to pilot the program during the 2014 AFL season in the Wagga & District and South West District Junior Football Leagues. AFL NSW/ACT and AFL Riverina will support RTP by identifying and liaising with local clubs and volunteer organisation within the District. Riverina Bluebell will have responsibility for the RTP Committee.

Merilyn & Helen recently travelled to Geelong to sign the MoU, pick up the kit, attend training and review the RTP resources. They will now be working on launching the program and delivering the training to local communities. Watch this space!

Background to Kepme RTP program

Kempe RTP is an interactive program, aimed at the junior level of sports clubs. It is designed 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 the clubs in the under 16 Australian Football League and under 15 Netball clubs. Two sessions are delivered to the groups:

  • 'Know What to Say’ which is held in the first year that the club participates and
  • ‘Know the Way’ which is held in the second year.

The sessions are presented as a Games Night by a Mental Health Professional and the club’s player wellbeing officer. These sessions operate within a team environment with participation numbers of a minimum 15 to a maximum 36 young people. Teams of 5 or 6 players compete against each other over the course of the night. The program’s duration is approximately 1 hour 30 minutes.

 The aims of ‘Kempe RTP’ are to help players to:

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

For more information about the Read the Play Program in Murrumbidgee contact us here.