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State of Mind Brisbane 2017: Le Va way-finding across the different codes

Dr. Monique Faleafa and Apollo Taito were privileged to represent Le Va at the NRL’s State of Mind Conference in Brisbane. In Australia and New Zealand, Rugby League Clubs are at the heart of many local communities. They provide a place for people to come together, socialise and connect. Connection to sporting clubs and other organised group activities contributes to resilience and wellbeing. A Rugby League Club with a positive and proactive attitude to mental health can make a real difference. 

Le Va, as a partner of the NRL, is committed to making a positive difference on the big issues that impact players, their families and communities. Mental illness is one of these issues. The benefits of making grassroots level clubs mentally healthy, can be far reaching as platforms for reducing stigma with self-help seeking, and suicide prevention.

Monique and Apollo were able to establish relationships with key like-minded organisations who are already working with suicide prevention in Australia.

Headspace is the Australian National Youth Mental Health Foundation, providing early intervention mental health services to 12-25-year olds, along with assistance in promoting young peoples’ wellbeing. This covers four core areas: mental health, physical health, work and study support, and alcohol and other drug services. They presented their work on facilitating conversations between young men and their fathers. They also had some interesting work on e-health, web chat rooms, with an evident focus on social media outreach to youth.

Black dog is a research based organisation, a translational research institute that aims to reduce the incidence of mental illness and the stigma around it, to actively reduce suicide rates, and empower everyone to live the most mentally healthy lives possible. They emphasised the value of ‘knowledge translation’ for organic workable solutions. Again, there was an emphasis on e-health, and good to see a targeted approach on physical health as a deterrent for mental ill health e.g. “Exercise your mood” programmes in schools as part of a mental fitness challenge.

Other organisations included Lifeline and Youthtown. 

The NRL showcased their pillar projects

  • Respect: promoting respect, harmony and reconciliation within communities; 
  • Learn: Improving education, enhancing employment opportunities and pathways and providing life skills; 
  • Health: utilising NRL players as platforms, powerful voices for physical and mental health and wellbeing

The key messages that came out of the conference were:

  1. The importance of Post-vention as a deliberate planned response
  2. Web chat rooms as a viable forum for youth
  3. The role of ambassadors that can disrupt stigma within communities: Enablers such as NRL Ambassadors are viable platforms for change. “As rugby league players we have a loud voice in the community” Joel Thompson
  4. Heavy focus on social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram
  5. Storytelling/Narrative/Talanoa as a significant driver for social change and enabling community

Monique presented on Le Va’s diverse work, receiving a lot of positive feedback from our Australian colleagues, especially regarding Le Va’s B.R.A.V.E video. Overall a good opportunity to network with services in Australasia, sharing solutions that are transferable to Pasifika, and vice versa from Le Va to Australia. 

In Auckland GPS 2017, Chief Advisor Mental Health (New Zealand’s Ministry of Health) John Crawshaw stated that there is no one solution to suicide prevention; more importantly, he spoke of looking across government agencies, transversely outside of sectors we wouldn’t traditionally work in. NRL State of Mind is one example of looking over the fence, to see what works for our youth, and our communities. The only downside from this conference was sharing the plane ride with so many Maroon supporters(1)


For further news of previous endeavors with the NRL see the following links:

NRL adds power for change to its State of Mind programme

#NRLStateOfMind shares its results

NRL recruits Le Va to support wellbeing of Pasifika league communities

(1). Editorial Note: this is Apollo’s personal view, not the view of Le Va, or any other staff members. Go the Maroons!

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Face-to-face workshops will not continue while New Zealand is at Level 4. We will be in contact with all participants soon.