AFL Players’ Association has a specialised in-house mental health and wellbeing team who are supported by our national network of leading mental health clinicians and wellbeing practitioners.
WHAT DO WE DO?
Our team is committed to investing in mental health and wellbeing science and practice to enhance the lives of current and past players, on and off the field. Our services are tailored to meet the needs of our past and present AFL Players, with an emphasis on building good mental health, wellbeing and life performance.
Our player-facing services are complimented by our range of wellbeing promotion and advocacy initiatives. These include a range of community projects, public campaigns, industry backed programs and workshops and targeted research activities.
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?
Mental health is a state of wellbeing in which you feel able to cope with stresses of everyday life, to maintain healthy relationships, to realise your potential in your career and personal life, have a sense of purpose and hope for the future, and are able to contribute to your community.
Wellbeing is a central component of good mental health. It is also referred to as happiness, life satisfaction, thriving or flourishing in life. Wellbeing is about feeling satisfied and functioning well in life. Wellbeing not only contributes to our mental health and helps us to perform to our potential, but also buffers us against mental illness and stress. Wellbeing is associated with a range of positive outcomes for physical health (e.g., immunity and longevity), psychological health (e.g., resilience, hope, purpose and meaning), social health (e.g., connectedness and prosocial behaviour) and career (e.g., performance, engagement, productivity, flow and creativity).
WHAT IS MENTAL ILLNESS?
Experiencing mental illness is more than just a “bad day” and can causes significant difficulties in your everyday activities, whether at work, school, or in relationships. Mental illness can negatively impact your thoughts, feelings, behaviour and memory. While onset of anxiety disorders and depression commonly start in adolescence, mental illness can occur at any age. Approximately 20% of the Australian population (1 in 5 people) will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Common disorders include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, gambling, alcohol and drug addiction.
Mental Health & Wellbeing Services
The AFLPA’s National Psychology Network consists of a diverse range of qualified, registered and experienced psychologists who are available to work one-on-one with players, away from the club environment. This Network is an independent, confidential, player-focused service, provided at no direct cost* to current and past players (*fees may apply for less than 24 hours’ notice of cancellation). Players can engage with this service via club PDMs, any AFLPA staff member or directly (Phone: 0403 336 236).
Mental Health & Wellbeing Promotion
Our wellbeing promotion approach includes workshops, campaigns and projects, with the focus on collectively building player wellbeing, resilience, and performance as people. Wellbeing promotion is about maximizing the potential of players during their AFL careers and beyond. Wellbeing promotion activities are informed by the latest mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural approaches and positive psychology.
We support a number of campaigns to promote wellbeing and mental health to the players’ and AFL Industry (e.g., Induction camp, AFL Players’ website and media opportunities). Our current key campaigns include:
- 5-Ways to Wellbeing
- R U OK?
The third arm of wellbeing promotion is through community funded projects. Currently we have two key projects underway at the AFL Players’ Association:
- MindMax, a digital community and learning platform built to maximise the wellbeing and resilience of Australian men. This project has been funded by the Movember Foundation over a three year period.
- Better Out Than In, a digital campaign telling the stories of AFL players and construction workers to help reduce stigma concerning depression in men aged 30-64 years. This project has been funded by beyondblue, with donations from the Movember Foundation, over a two year period.
Mental Health & Wellbeing Advocacy
The determinants of good mental health and wellbeing are many and varied and it is essential to look at a whole systems approach. The risks and opportunities for establishing good mental health and wellbeing need to be addressed at an individual, team, workplace, and industry level.
Key AFLPA strategies include:
- Healthy & Happy @Work (HH@W): A partnership with peak industry bodies (e.g., AFL, AFLPA, Clubs, AFLCA, AFLUA) and mental health experts (e.g., beyondblue, Heads Up) to review current practice and promote AFL industry best practice (2016).
- Club culture survey (AFLPA, annual since 2010)
- Player Mental Health & Wellbeing Survey (AFLPA 2011; AFL/AFLPA 2015)
- Past Player Health & Wellbeing Survey (AFLPA 2016)
- Player and Club Gambling Behaviour Review (AFLPA/AFL 2015-16)
- Coordinating professional development opportunities for player support staff
- Better Out Than In campaign, stigma reduction for depression (beyondblue)
- MindMax, building mens’ wellbeing & resilience (Movember Foundation)
Need Support? If you know someone who requires urgent assistance or support, please contact:
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Mens Line Australia: 1300 78 99 78
Support for AFL Players: If you are a current or past AFL Player and would like to know more about our specialised wellbeing and mental health services please contact the AFL Players’ at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel. 03-8651 4300 (Mon to Fri, 9am – 5pm).