Wests Tigers is urging supporters to tackle the stigma about mental health as the club partners with Beyond Blue for this Sunday’s game against the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Leichhardt Oval.
Wests Tigers first partnered with Beyond Blue last year and will use this weekend’s game to shine a light on depression and anxiety and suicide prevention in the NRL community and to encourage players, members and fans to seek support early for mental health issues.
Wests Tigers was touched by suicide in 2013 with the death of promising young forward Mosese Fotuaika.
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe said the club had increased mental health support to players and staff and took its responsibility to mental health seriously.
“Our club went through a very difficult time after the loss of Mosese and we’re now investing more into supporting the mental health of our players and staff than ever before,” Pascoe said.
“We’re proud to support Beyond Blue again this year and look forward to using our platform to promote the great work it does.”
Former Wests Tigers player Paul Whatuira is the club’s education and wellbeing officer and said Wests Tigers had taken proactive steps to make players’ mental health a priority.
Whatuira – who has suffered from mental health issues himself in the past – said each Wests Tigers player had a mental health plan in place and had regular contact with staff in this area.
“Conditions like depression and anxiety are actually very common and you can recover with the right treatment,” Whatuira said.
“Asking for mental health support isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s like a physical injury – the sooner you get support, the sooner you’re back on the ground and at your best. Talking about mental health is a game changer.”
Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said Wests Tigers set a leading example for NRL clubs and fans across the country, particularly for Australian men.
Depression is a high risk factor for suicide – more than eight Australians take their lives each day and six of them are men.
“These guys are among the strongest and fittest blokes around, but they’re putting their hands up to say they’re just as vulnerable as the rest of us when it comes to mental health,” Ms Harman said. “I applaud the Wests Tigers for their leadership and openness. Beyond Blue is proud to partner with the club for this weekend’s game.”
Beyond Blue will be Wests Tigers’ charity partner for this Sunday’s game, with kickoff at 4pm.
To support Beyond Blue’s work nationally, donate at beyondblue.org.au/beyondbluecup
Wests Tigers players will be available for media interviews and photos at noon today, at Concord Oval - Loftus St, Concord.