headspace's new headcoach message to young men
WESTERN Bulldogs big man Tom Boyd says the incredible premiership season seemed to paper over the cracks appearing in his mental health.
Boyd started to have panic attacks in the pre-season. Insomnia started to set in. By mid-season 2017, Boyd took a break from the club, supported by a team psychologist, to receive treatment for clinical depression and anxiety.
Boyd will give voice to a new headspace campaign which will launch at the MCG on Wednesday, encouraging young men to train and look after their mind – just like they train physically.
headspace chief executive officer Jason Trethowan, who grew up in Ballarat, said Boyd was such a gentle giant to meet and seemed impressively at ease talking about his experience.
The campaign builds on headspace’s push last year to encourage and teach fathers how to talk to their teenage sons.
Young men are still greatly under-represented in seeking help. Of those accessing headspace last year, only 38 per cent of were male.
“We actually had to go out and ask young men why...It goes back to the gender stereotypes of the past reinforced in the present, being tough and sucking it up. This has conditioned men over time to not express their feelings,” Trethowan said.
“Men like Tom are quite powerful. They’re great role models.”
Trethowan said a lot of young men were starting to speak up more and the program has a proactive focus on seven key tips to building a good headspace and training for a healthy mind. These include: connections and relationships, eating well, getting enough sleep, cutting back alcohol and drugs and doing meaningful stuff.
For Boyd, it was about rediscovering other activities he loved outside of football, like surfing or taking his dog Nala for walks.
"It was all about making time to do the things you really love doing," Boyd said.
Trethowan said the stigma tends to be stronger in rural communities but, in saying that, he praised the proactive work in Ballarat and Horsham among the community and in schools to create safe spaces.
While the campaign was targeted to young men, Trethowan said young people can learn so much from their parents and how they role model dealing with stress – from diet or promoting connections with family and friends.
Dale Thomas (AFL), Kurtley Beale (rugby union), Usman Khawaja (cricket), Brandon Defina (eSports), James Tedesco (NRL) and Daniel Arzani (soccer) also feature in the headcoach campaign.
Boyd hoped young men will learn to become better at opening up about how they are feeling.
"Young men are consistently poor at understanding what is going on inside their head, but we seem to be all right at looking after our mates so if that is the one takeaway that we will get out of this campaign, it is to support your mates," Boyd said.
Boyd is shaping up to take to Mars Stadium on Sunday when AFL returns to Ballarat.
For more: headspace.org.au/headcoach
Ballarat juniors working together to read the play
TRAINING was all about learning to read the behavioural play of teammates for North Ballarat juniors in a league first on Tuesday night.
The under-16.5 squad took part in the Ballarat launch of Read the Play, a youth mental health program for junior sporting clubs.
Players’ focus was on supporting each other off the field and tackling tough mental health issues, like suicide, in a bid to remove stigma and encourage young people to seek help.
Read the Play has been running in Geelong since 2006 and expanded into junior clubs across South Australia and New South Wales.
Geelong-based health insurance body GMHBA has played a key role in delivering the program to the Ballarat Football Netball League.
GMHBA community relations manager Amy Gillett said Read the Play felt like the perfect fit to develop in the Ballarat region, too.
“One of the things we’re looking at with mental health is getting in early and teaching young people how to support each other,” Ms Gillett told The Courier at the Mars Stadium session.
“Football and netball clubs are such a great community in themselves, we think this will be a real benefit to strengthen that.”
Read the Play also strengthens player ties with clubs’ well-being officers, who are usually a little older, so they feel safe in seeking help or advice if needed.
The program will continue to roll out in the Ballarat Football Netball League in the next month, starting at under-16.5s, with more footballers and netballers to be supported in 2019. It is expected to reach about 600 Ballarat players by the end of next season.
Added bite for high school students
Meanwhile, Black Dog Institute relaunched its free online BITE BACK program for high school students on Wednesday with new interactive elements, in a bid to boost teenagers’ well-being and resilience.
BITE BACK takes a preventative approach to mental health, helping youth to identify and focus on good things in their lives.