Partnership puts focus on mental health

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
GSFL’s Andrew McWhirter and Headspace Albany’s Andrew Wenzel with Great Southern Storm players Jackson Cosh and Luke Annandale.
Camera IconGSFL’s Andrew McWhirter and Headspace Albany’s Andrew Wenzel with Great Southern Storm players Jackson Cosh and Luke Annandale. Credit: Cameron Newbold/Picture: Cameron Newbold, Cameron Newbold Albany Advertiser

Encouraging teenage boys to speak up about their mental wellbeing will be the aim of a new partnership using local football clubs as the avenue to seek support.

Youth mental health service headspace Albany will partner with the Great Southern Football League this season as the naming rights sponsor of the colts competition in the hope of opening up conversations on mental health and suicide.

Headspace Albany manager Andrew Wenzel, who spoke with players from the Great Southern Storm academy recently, said the partnership was about changing the perception that seeking help was not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.

“Frank, open conversations are the cornerstone to positively responding to a young person who may be experiencing struggles with mental health or who may be suicidal,” he said.

“Some people are under the misconception that asking someone you are concerned about if they have contemplated suicide may lead to them acting on their thoughts, but evidence shows this is not the case.

“Opening a conversation shows you care, and gives the person an opportunity to talk about how they are feeling. This is a really important step towards seeking help.”

Great Southern Football League executive member Andrew McWhirter said he had seen youth battle with their mental health through his career as a high school teacher and involvement in local football as a coach and player.

He believed the new partnership would be crucial to breaking down the barriers of conversation.

“It’s the age group where boys are most reluctant to seek help,” he said.

“If the colts partnership assists in putting a name to a face or a kid coming through the door to seek help, it has done it’s job.”

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