Sam Tagataese has joined the NRL’s campaign to help tackle the growing challenges of mental health issues in Clubs and communities.

The NRL’s “State of Mind” campaign aims to increase mental health literacy and encourage members of the community to take ownership and responsibility of their own mental health and those around them.

Tagataese joins 13 players from 10 other NRL clubs to undertake a training program to be an Ambassador for the campaign.

All ambassadors receive Mental Health First Aid training and qualifications, training and support to be able to deliver a mental health program designed by the Black Dog Institute, the opportunity to give back to their community in a meaningful way and become a leader in mental health awareness within their clubs.

“I’ve had a brief experience of minor depression,” Tagataese said. “After doing the training program I understood how far it could go. It’s a growing issue.

“Once I heard about the Ambassador program I wanted to be a part of it so I can help someone else in need and make a difference in this area.”

Darius Boyd, Tariq Sims and Michael Morgan are among others completing the course, and Tagataese praised their involvements in starting the necessary conversations around mental health.

“It was really good to see. They probably had their own personal reasons why they joined the course, but to be a part of it with them was something enjoyable,” Tagataese said.

“Obviously it’s good to have these conversations. We’re all being portrayed as tough and strong men but often that isn’t the case mentally.”

In acquiring the skills to acknowledge the signs and symptoms of mental illness, Tagataese said that he has learnt a lot in a short space of time.  

“Hopefully I can work with the Islanders and hopefully they’ll be more open in talking to me,” said the Samoan international.

“It’ll make it easier for them to approach me. As a Pacific Islander, I hope they can be find trust and be open with me.”

The State of Mind campaign has the backing of national health providers in Lifeline, Headspace, Black Dog Institute and Kids Helpline.

For more information on the program, visit http://www.nrlstateofmind.com.au