Mental illness is the most common health issue in young people, with 75% of mental illness having its onset before the age of 25.  Australian data suggests that one in four people aged 16–24 have experienced mental ill-health in the past 12 months.

Community sport can offer an ideal space to support mental health and wellbeing for communities, particularly for young people. 

It provides a safe space and trusted network where people feel socially connected.

High numbers of young people participate in organised sport, meaning that clubs, leagues and associations can provide an important context outside schools where positive messages, mental health education and guidance regarding support services can be provided.

Across Victoria, and specifically here in Gippsland, there is a rapidly increasing number of organisations offering mental health and wellbeing support services to sports organisations in Victoria, from guest talks to education programs. 

What makes it especially challenging for club volunteers is that the sector is largely unregulated, with program providers offering differing services and programs of varying quality.

Clubs have a duty of care to ensure that the providers they select are safe and do no harm to the health and wellbeing of their participants.

Navigating the range of programs to select a provider can be challenging.

Following is a list of questions developed by VicHealth to help your club through the process, we’ve also provided links to some local organisations who provide endorsed and evidence-based mental health and wellbeing services in Gippsland or who are an industry recognised organisation:

Tips for selecting a mental health and wellbeing program provider.

  • What expertise in mental health and wellbeing in sport does the provider organisation have?
  • Are mental health professionals involved in developing programs?
  • Who are the program facilitators and what are their qualifications?
  • What evidence can the organisation provide that documents their program’s impact?
  • How long has the provider worked within the community sport sector?
  • What approach or model does the organisation use?
  • Does the provider provide ongoing support to your club and/or link to local support services?
    • Many claim to ‘build club capacity’ but really they just centralise burden on a club committee that is already overworked

Orygen, the National centre of excellence for youth mental health have developed the following document & guidelines for mental health programs in clubs.  Page 21 of this document shows that there is no to little evidence that the programs work in sport: 
What works for mental health in sporting teams

Organisations to access for mental health and wellbeing services

  1. Lifeline Gippslandis a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. You can call their 24-hour crisis line 13 11 14 to confidentially chat to trained Telephone Crisis Supporters
  1. Head Space is Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation. Services can be accessed in 100+ national Headspace centres, online or through clinical programs across the country. In Gippsland, Head Space has locations in Wonthaggi, Morwell, Sale, Bairnsdale.
  1. Beyond Blue is one of Australia’s leading mental health organisations and provides valuable information about depression and anxiety.
  1. Orygenworks with young people, their families and friends to pioneer new, positive approaches to the prevention and treatment of mental disorders.
  1. Black Dog Instituteis a mental health research institute dedicated to creating real-world change in the mental health space.
  1. Kids Helplinehas information and counselling for children, teenagers, young adults, parents and schools.