Tackling Mental Health

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By Thick & Thin + Tackle Your Feelings

Why is mental health important?

  • Mental ill health is a significant challenge for society, with 1 in 5 people likely to experience a diagnosable mental health condition in their lifetime.
  • Most football clubs will have 80-100 players so there’s likely to be multiple people who are experiencing mental health challenges at any point in time.
  • Football communities are traditionally supportive and nurturing environments, and clubs have an opportunity to create an environment whereby the people within it feel safe and comfortable to have conversations about mental health.

Thick & Thin (T&T) is a player led initiative that has been increasing awareness of mental health within the VAFA since 2015. T&T looks to events across the football year to encourage clubs to openly plan and strategize for clubs that are inclusive and proactive in approaching mental health and wellbeing. Community sport plays a major role in maintaining positive mental health for many people.

Tackle Your Feelings (TYF) is a free mental health training program for local footy clubs and coaches that is supporting the VAFA in 2021. The program aims to give coaches the tools to understand, recognise and manage their response to signs of mental ill-health. TYF is a collaboration between the AFL Coaches Association, AFL Players’ Association and Zurich Insurance/Z Zurich Foundation

Through both Thick & Thin and Tackle Your Feelings, the VAFA hope to build capacity within communities, creating multiple connectors to help bring appropriate support to those in need.

Coaches are so influential to the lives of their players, so they are uniquely placed to have a positive impact on the mental health of their players. Players in their own right are leaders, and also have influence on the peers and teammates.

Across two training sessions and a game day, coaches spend a lot of time with players so they are also in a position to be able to recognise and respond to someone if they are experiencing mental ill-health

More information can be obtained by emailing, Sean Walker (VAFA Club Development) [email protected]

The two organisations are joining forces to bring you the biggest and most informative mental health breakfast for all VAFA clubs.

The breakfast event is being hosted at the MCG on Wednesday 28 July and will include:

  • A panel discussion featuring past and present AFL and AFLW players and officials including the great Neil Balme, Dylan Buckley and Ellie Blackburn;
  • A presentation on mental health initiatives that clubs can implement;
  • An overview of the Tackle Your Feelings Program; and
  • A show bag for each club containing information on support services and other resources.

We welcome all players, officials and supporters of community sport to come along to the breakfast.

Please contact the Thick & Thin team at [email protected] if you have any questions.

Please note that ticket sales will finish on Wednesday, 21 July if not sold out prior. This event is capped at 250 attendees so get in early to avoid disappointment.