Australian data shows that one in four people aged 16–24 years have experienced mental ill-health in the past 12 months[i]. However, young people don’t always look for help or speak up when they need help.
A new suite of resources, released today by Orygen, provides practical advice for sporting organisations to support the mental wellbeing of young people aged 12-24 years.
Community sporting clubs and coaches have the potential to provide support to young people affected by mental ill-health, said Dr Simon Rice, a senior research fellow and clinical psychologist at Orygen.
“Coaches and club staff are usually very respected by young people within the club and environment, and through that respect comes trust,” Dr Rice said.
“Because of this, there is a chance young people will feel they can disclose how they’re feeling to their coaches and other club staff.”
The Orygen resources includes a toolkit, checklist, guide to responding to signs of mental ill-health, and a video featuring a young person, coach and clinician on how to have conversations about mental health in a community sports setting.
“Although coaches and club staff have an important role to play, they do not hold the entire responsibility for a young person’s mental health,” Dr Rice said.
Orygen’s suite of resources provide advice on how coaches and club staff may identify external mental health supports and suggest that the young person engages with these supports.
Jess*, a coach and welfare officer for a Melbourne-based soccer club, said she is often approached by young people in her club for mental health support.
“When I talk to young people about their mental health, trying to solve their problem for them can cause them to withdraw from the conversation. So sometimes it’s just a case of listening without providing judgement,” Jess said. “I just need to listen to what they’re saying. I can’t fix it, but I can be there to take a bit of the weight.”