With junior sports returning to courts, fields and pitches across the Hunter this month, coaches are being urged to have an important conversation with their athletes.
To assist, a national suicide prevention organisation is offering the opening line.
‘Hey Sport, R U OK?’ is the name of an Australia-wide campaign aimed at equipping coaches with resources and tips to ensure all members of their sporting community feel safe and supported.
R U OK Chief Executive, Katherine Newton, says sport has a crucial role in the community.
“Sport can break down barriers, reduce stigma, and provide a safe and inclusive environment where everyone can thrive,” she said.
“But, for that to happen, everyone needs to play their part, none more so than coaches.”
“All the feedback and advice we have listened to points to coaches as having the most influential role in grass roots sport and the opportunity to change lives.”
The ‘Hey Sport, R U OK?’ campaign provides resources to help coaches spot the signs that someone might be struggling and guides them through what to say and do in the event one of their athletes, players or sporting colleagues is not okay.
“We are sadly, too often contacted by sporting clubs and associations who want to host games or activities to honour members of their sporting community who have died by suicide,” Ms Newton said.
“This has highlighted a further need for a proactive preventative approach and has led us to develop the ‘Hey Sport, R U OK?’ campaign.
Hockeyroo, Olympian and dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Rachael Lynch, is throwing her support behind the initiative.
“It might not say it in the coaching manual but it’s likely that at some stage every coach will be called on to be an ‘accidental counsellor’,” she said.
“This campaign provides these simple, free and easy to adopt resources so clubs, teams and associations can proactively embed an R U OK? culture that encourages everyone involved to support each other both on and off the field.
As a registered nurse, Ms Lynch said she understands first-hand the need to promote mental health awareness.
“Building that culture isn’t down to one person but coaches can certainly put the foundations in place,” she said.
For more stories like this:
- Getting our kids court ready
- New competition to get kids moving
- Punter adds to growing list in college football