Wakefield Trinity Wildcats forward Justin Poore believes the mental health and wellbeing-orientated State of Mind campaign is vital in the high-pressure game of rugby league.
Poore, speaking ahead of this week’s State of Mind-themed Super League round, insists there is no shame in players stepping forward and admitting they need help.
“It’s very important,” he said. “State of Mind is a great initiative and the boys should make sure they use it.
“Most of us have played footy for their whole lives and there’s a lot of pressure, especially when a player is nearing the back end of their career.
“There’s a lot of pressure in footy anyway – it’s a game where one tiny thing can make a massive impact and you don’t want to let your teammates down.
“There’s pressure from the fans and you don’t want to let them down either but the scrutiny from the media is massive.
“Over here, it’s not too bad but back in Australia, if you make a mistake you know that they can screw you over.
“I try and stay as relaxed as possible each week and remember why I play the game.
“If you overthink, you put even more pressure on yourself and that shows in your performance.”
The Australian forward also believes the reluctance to talk is due to the hard-hitting, physical nature of rugby league.
“Blokes in general hide a lot of feelings,” he added.
“I’m not too sure why that is, maybe it’s just the way we’re made up.
“We play a physical game as well and we try to brush off any injuries that we pick-up.
“But it’s vital to acknowledge you can’t brush off mental injuries. Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and speak up.
“There’s been cases in the past where players have tried to keep things to themselves and it’s just escalated.”
The Rugby Football League [RFL] has dedicated this week’s Round 25 fixtures to support the State of Mind programme and help raise awareness of mental health issues, tackle stigma and signpost the support available to Rugby League players and fans.
RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said: “The RFL are pleased to support the State of Mind programme by dedicating a Round of Super League matches to highlight the work that the organisation does promoting mental health and wellbeing, which is vitally important within all professional sports and their wider communities.”
Now in its third year, State of Mind explores and promotes initiatives relating to suicide prevention by targeting groups to deliver a range of awareness raising options focusing on mental fitness and resilience.
Almost 1000 players, coaches and support staff from Super League and the Championships, the three professional leagues in this country, have attended State of Mind sessions, with 95 per cent of those attending never having had mental health training before.
Sessions continue to be run at Super League clubs in particular focusing on mental fitness to ensure people can manage the ups and downs of life effectively and encourage people to access support if it is needed.
More information can be found on the website www.stateofmindrugby.com or on Twitter at @SOMRugbyLeague.