‘It’s not something a lot of people like to talk about’

Preston Campbell during his playing days for the Indigenous All Stars. Now he helps players maintain strong mental health. Photo provided by the NRL.

The NRL has secured another three years of funding from the Australian Government for the State of Mind program to help players better manage their mental health.

Former NRL player Preston Campbell is leading a push to get more players to talk about their internal challenges.

“I know the benefit of talking about how you’re feeling,” Campbell said.

“It’s scary in the beginning trying to express yourself but once you do, things just seem to flow and you can then enjoy playing rugby league because you feel like there’s a weight off your chest.”

Campbell is working with top players to help them become leaders in the mental well-being space.

“When our [Indigenous] men and women talk it’s almost gospel so we want them to take up that leadership role in this space especially, because it’s not something a lot of people like to talk about.”

Campbell and former New Zealand star Clinton Toopi spoke to players before the Indigenous All Stars clash in Melbourne last month.

Toopi is also an advocate for the State of Mind program and believes the extended government funding will be put to good use.

“To give us a three-year commitment just shows the faith [the government] has in its longevity and how much work there is to do, while also giving us enough capacity and leverage to go to the wider community outside of rugby league,” Toopi said.

By Keiran Deck

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