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Statement: AFL appoints head of mental heath and wellbeing, and chief psychiatrist

Following a comprehensive review into mental health, the AFL has made two new key appointments - AFL,Tag-AFL HQ
Following a comprehensive review into mental health, the AFL has made two new key appointments

AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan and AFL Players’ Association Chief Executive Officer, Paul Marsh, today announced the appointments of Dr Kate Hall as the AFL’s Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing and Dr Ranjit Menon as the AFL’s Chief Psychiatrist.
 
These new appointments form part of a strategy developed by the Industry Governance Committee following a comprehensive review into mental health. The two roles are dedicated to improving the overall industry’s support of mental health and wellbeing for current and past male and female players, umpires, coaches and over 3000 administration staff.
 
Mr McLachlan said these significant appointments will transform the management of mental health and wellbeing for the entire AFL industry.
 
“The mental health and wellbeing of everyone involved in our game is a key focus, we know it is one of the biggest issues facing the industry and these appointments ensure we have prioritised the wellbeing of players, umpires, coaches and football administration staff,” Mr McLachlan said.
 
“The combination of a clinical psychologist in Dr Kate Hall and psychiatrist in Dr Ranjit Menon is a world-first for a professional sporting organisation, positioning the industry towards a best-practice model.
 
“Dr Hall is an experienced clinician and academic who has dedicated her research and practice to the treatment of addiction and mental health issues for over 15 years.

“Kate will lead the mental health and wellbeing function for the AFL, overseeing the strategy, implementation, clinical operations and review of all mental health policies, processes and activities within the AFL, and the wider industry.”

Dr Hall will be responsible for the Mental Health & Wellbeing Team. She will continue to act as Senior Lecturer in Addiction and Mental Health at Deakin University one day per week and lead research projects through the AFL’s research agreement with Deakin University.

An experienced sports psychiatrist, Dr Ranjit Menon will oversee all medical interventions in his role as AFL Chief Psychiatrist, having responsibility for the clinical governance of mental healthcare.
 
“Dr Menon is a highly-regarded psychiatrist who has worked with national sporting organisations and clubs across the country. He has been involved in the psychiatric management of elite athletes since 2014 and his existing relationships with many AFL clubs will serve him well in this role,” Mr McLachlan said.
 
AFL Players’ Association Chief Executive Officer Paul Marsh said:
 
“We’re proud of how through the important work of the Industry Governance Committee and the Mental Health Industry review it has undertaken over the past 18 months, the entire industry has come together to develop a united approach to tackle the complex issue of mental health.  

“We are excited by the appointments of Dr Hall and Dr Menon and congratulate them on their new roles. Both have been part of the AFLPA’s national psychologist network for several years and are acutely aware of the challenges facing players and the broader industry.
 
“Through the combination of Dr Hall, Dr Menon and the existing AFLPA Mental Health and Wellbeing team we have never felt more optimistic about the industry’s prospects of effecting meaningful change in what is our industry’s most pressing issue.”
 
Dr Kate Hall said:

“Having worked for many years to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians, I ultimately believe this role can make an impact on how the AFL industry and broader community responds to mental health issues.

“I look forward to supporting and expanding on the excellent work of the AFL club doctors and the mental health practitioners working with AFL players and will be working to ensure we provide excellent mental healthcare to all players and staff across the system.

“I am excited by this opportunity to move the industry towards best practice in mental health prevention and early intervention.”

Dr Ranjit Menon said:
 
“As a passionate advocate and an established provider of mental healthcare of elite athletes, I am very honoured and excited to be appointed to the role of AFL Chief Psychiatrist. 
 
“I look forward to working with Kate and other officials within the AFL governance hierarchy as well as the AFL clubs and their clinical staff including club doctors and psychologists.
 
“We will aspire to develop the clinical infrastructure and promote mental health of athletes and staff across the AFL ecosystem.”
 
The AFL wishes to acknowledge and thank AFL Commissioner Helen Milroy, Hawthorn President Jeff Kennett, Richmond Chief Executive Officer Brendon Gale and AFLPA Chief Executive Officer Paul Marsh for their involvement in the process to appoint Dr Hall and Dr Menon.
 
Dr Hall and Dr Menon will officially join the AFL in mid-September 2019.