THE AFL has beefed up its focus on mental health with its junior programs, teaming with youth organisation headspace for an array of initiatives.
The partnership will see mental wellbeing education provided for the next generation of AFL and AFLW talent across the country.
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The programs will be tailored to 16 to 18-year-old boys and girls in the NAB AFL Academy, state academy programs and multicultural and Indigenous talents.
The League will be supported by headspace to deliver a curriculum promoting mental fitness and wellbeing so the players are better prepared for the AFL once they arrive.
The AFL's head of mental health and wellbeing, Dr Kate Hall, said it was an important step for the future of the game.
"Together with headspace, we will develop and embed a curriculum across the Talent pathways to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people striving to play the game at the highest level," Hall said.
"This early investment in the future leaders of our game will benefit the health and wellbeing of our football community in the long term."
Headspace chief executive Jason Trethowan said combining with the AFL was an integral step in gearing the next generation of players for the pressures of the top level.
"A third of young Australians are currently reporting high or very high levels of psychological distress and we know that if young people experiencing mental health challenges access support early, the more likely they are to achieve better outcomes," Trethowan said.
"This partnership with the AFL provides a great opportunity to continue to address and reduce the stigma around mental illness and in doing so, ensure young people and their families have the tools and resources to navigate potentially challenging times."