A mental health fitness program for young footballers, umpires and their support networks is now being rolled out at clubs across the Geelong region.
Not-for-profit Meli is one of 16 community organizations providing pre-game mental health literacy and resilience training at community football clubs, described as the world’s largest roll-out of a mental health fitness program in sport.
Supported by the AFL, Movember and the University of Wollongong, the program aims to educate young players and umpires (aged 12-18) and support networks of parents, coaches and club volunteers about the importance of mental health.
According to Ahead of the Game, 75 percent of mental health disorders develop before the age of 25, but research has shown that organized sports are an effective and important way to support mental health.
Melli Chief Executive Officer Grant Boyd is delighted to be working with his organization Read the Play and the AFL to deliver the program locally, bringing together the partners’ collective resources, experience and expertise to help young people.
“Our experience shows that the best way to support community well-being is to be proactive and take a preventative and early intervention approach,” he said.
“This initiative will help give young people the tools they need to face life’s challenges and the confidence they need to support their friends and family.”
Melly is partnering with Geelong-based mental health program Read the Play to deliver the program through five football leagues in Barwon South West, with the first sessions already underway.
Read the Play, Read the Play General Manager Michelle Gerds said.
“We have been working with AFL Barwon clubs for 17 years to provide mental health education to 14-16 year olds and the mental health and wellbeing of young people in our region is our ongoing focus.
“This partnership will help our local clubs play an active role in supporting the mental health of young community members.”
For more information about the game, go to aheadofthegame.org.au