In schools, we know that the need for our male students, in particular, to be able to get help from someone who understands both what is going on from them and their reluctance in seeking the help in the first place is vital. However, it has been often difficult for us to provide this. So often in my time in High schools I have seen Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, Female Teachers or Female community workers ask young men the question “Why didn’t you tell me” and not know why the young men have not answered them.
The message that you and the Raiders provided first hand to our young men is invaluable – that it’s OK to have problems in your life but that you need to talk about them to friends, family, teachers and other professionals. Importantly, I think the boys appreciated the message that even strong, successful men have problems from time to time and that they’re not afraid to share their feelings.
We organised this session as a part of our wider mental health program within the school together our mental health ambassadors to assist and encourage young men to come forward with their problems. I believe that the open and accessible format of the program, together with the players support, provided a great platform for our boys to come forward with their issues. The question and answer session in particular was very well received, and we further uncovered a series of potential issues for some of our students.
I believe that a number of our students felt empowered through this session to actively seek help, to start conversations with their mates and the teaching staff, and, importantly, to look out for each other. The session really helped reduce the stigma of mental health issues amongst our young students and I look forward to having Menslink back in our school to run more sessions in future years.