Mental Health and Wellbeing for Community Clubs and State Leagues

Across our AFL communities we work hard, have fun and are passionate about what we do. We believe everyone has a role to play in the mental health and wellbeing of our sporting community.  

We want to support our football communities to become mentally fit and healthy places. If you are looking for information on choosing a mental health and wellbeing program for your club download the Orygen and AFL Evidence Guide or the Vic Health sporting club toolkit.

What’s a mentally fit and capable club?

  1. A Club that positively contributes to the mental health and wellbeing of its members, their families and our communities.
  2. A Club where players and administrators are mentally fit and have the skills to manage their own wellbeing.
  3. A Club where everyone involved knows how to help each other to find the mental health support they need.

Clubs play a role in being healthy places for their members and are an important part of mentally fit and capable communities. By promoting the equal importance of mental and physical health and contributing to the mental health literacy of its members, clubs can be part of the solution to promoting healthy communities.

How can a Community or State League Club be mentally fit and capable?

Participation in community sport is good for your mental health. So is volunteering and contributing meaningfully to your community. Clubs are already contributing to mentally healthy communities by encouraging participation and connection through football and keeping their members physically active. Find further resources and information on mental health for community clubs.

Promote a positive and welcoming environment 
Fostering an inclusive sporting environment that connects with the community and promotes local needs can provide the foundation for a positive culture in community sporting clubs. A positive environment allows participants, coaches, families and supporters to feel safe, supported and included. The AFL supports Play by the Rules and the collection of support resources and practical tools available for community sport in Australia 

Promotion of mental fitness
Clubs can promote mental fitness alongside physical fitness by teaching players good mental health habits. Access helpful resources such as the Bite Back Mental Fitness Challenge which is a great example of how we can build and promote mental fitness.

The AFL Mental Health and Wellbeing team have produced a number of fact sheets to inform our community about some key elements of mental fitness.Each of these elements of mental health and wellbeing can be pursued in their own right to bolster wellbeing. When pursued collectively (focusing on multiple elements) they have the ability to impact sustainable wellbeing gains over time providing improved levels of mental fitness and greater capacity to flexibly respond to life challenges and opportunities.  

Find out more by checking out our resources.

Tackle Stigma 
An important part of being a menatlly fit and capable club includes actively reducing stigma about mental ill-health. Reducing stigma is important because it reduces barriers to getting help. Language is important in reducing stigma. If you are unsure about how to communicate respectfully about mental ill-health the AFL supports the use of the Mindframe Guidelines for communicating respectfully about mental ill-health.

Access Beyond Blue’s information on reducing stigma and discrimination in our community.

Advocate Mental Health Literacy
Educating members about common signs of mental health challenges can promote mental health literacy among your members. Mental health literacy programs and online resources are widely available and are one important part of being a mentally fit and capable club.  For more information on how to choose a mental health and wellbeing program for your football club download the Orygen and AFL Evidence Guide or the Vic Health sporting club toolkit.

A toolkit to support mental wellbeing and promote mental health in community sport has been developed by researchers at Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health. The suite of resources includes a toolkit, checklist, guide and video to help sporting clubs support the mental health and wellbeing of young people, and could be useful for coaches, support staff and administrators in promoting good mental health and help-seeking behaviours in their players aged 12-24 years

Mental health literacy encourages early identification of mental-ill health and promotes seeking help for mental health challenges. The AFL supports Mental Health First Aid Australia and the certified providers of MHFA Training. MHFA also has guides about how to respond to someone experiencing a mental health challenge so you can help them seek professional support.

Find out more about MHFA Australia.  Access the AFL’s How to Seek Help navigator tool for our community.  Get your Lifeline AFL Supporter's Care Kit today.

Clubs can help members know where to access safe and reliable information about mental health and help members know where to access help. The AFL mental health partners are Lifeline and headspace. They are National mental health organisations who are reliable sources of expert mental health information and help. The AFL has a long association and relationship with Beyond Blue, who are trusted sources of mental health information for individuals and families.

Mentally Fit and Capable Club Checklist 

  1. We promote mentally healthy habits alongside physical health;
  2. We work hard to create a Club environment that is an inclusive and safe place for everyone; 
  3. We work to reduce stigma about mental ill-health by getting behind mental health promotion campaigns; 
  4. We know the signs when someone is struggling with mental health challenges and know how to respond; 
  5. We promote early identification of mental health challenges;
  6. We work to create a culture of online safety for our football club community 
  7.  We promote help seeking behaviours early and we help our participants and  members know where to get help;
  8. We have relationships with our local mental health providers such as headspace, our area mental health service or local hospital network, Lifeline community services and our community health centres.
  9. We have mental health first aid officers who champion mental health and who know how to help a member in crisis; 
  10. We help people recover from mental health challenges by making them welcome at the Club in any capacity.

In communities that have been impacted by suicide, football clubs are often part of the community response. For Club’s wanting to know more about how to support members impacted by suicide please contact us:

Critical Incident Response Guide for use by Community Clubs

The Critical Incident Response Guide aims to assist clubs manage the actions that may result from involvement in or exposure to a critical incident. It looks to help navigate their responsibilities in responding to an incident along with supporting those experiencing distress. Critical incidents refer to any extraordinary and unexpected circumstances that may cause a traumatic reaction, such as the death or critical injury of a player, club person, family member etc, destruction of whole or part of a premises, or acute illness etc. The guide can be used as a reference point in working through the incident that has occurred, as well as assisting in any documentation and supporting club members impacted by the incident. The document also provides key contacts within the AFL, along with reporting procedures, and resources to assist in seeking help for club members.

Mentally Fit and Capable Sporting Clubs Promote a Culture of Safety and Inclusion 

Clubs can make a difference to the mental health of their members by committing to creating an inclusive and positive culture which has zero tolerance towards risks to mental health such as stigma, bullying, racism, harassment and discrimination. Click on the links below to access key AFL policy and industry best practice that contributes to mentally healthy football club environments.