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Sharks Have Heart – Helping to understand Mental Health

A key objective of Sharks Have Heart is to contribute to a thriving sports sector in the Sutherland Shire, and as a part of that strategy this week hosted 18 volunteers, representing eight Cronulla Junior Rugby League clubs as well as Sharks Waterpolo, Sharks Swimming and Kareela Golf at a Mental Health First Aid Course.

The community focused initiative was generously supported by Sharks Have Heart sponsor Woolooware Bay.

The Mental Health First Aid course, facilitated by Sharks Head of Government and Community Jessica Macartney, taught participants how to provide initial help to a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis.

Stephen Foster jumped at the opportunity to attend the course as the representative for Kareela Golf. The topic of mental health is one that he holds close to his heart so the chance to be educated about how to effectively assist family, friends, and members of his club was an opportunity he was grateful for.

“One thing I took out of the course was that direct, non-judgemental conversations have the best outcomes,” said Foster.

Daryl Gleeson, Secretary of the Cronulla-Caringbah Sharks JRL club is often interacting with parents, volunteers, and players as part of his role. He realises that mental illness does not discriminate and can affect people of all ages.

“As a club we need to focus not only on physical skill development, but also on improving mental health,” Gleeson reflected. “The mental health training taught me to have real and meaningful conversations with people as this helps with early identification of signs and symptoms of emerging mental health difficulties.”

Around 1 in 5 Australian adults experience a common mental illness each year. Understanding how to talk about mental health and help someone in need are important skills, with many people feeling uncomfortable and unprepared when thinking about starting a conversation with someone they are concerned about.

At the course, participants learned how to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health problems and were taught the skills to feel confident and able to help members of their sports club who are struggling. Each volunteer received a formal qualification and a Mental Health First Aid Certificate.

Sincere thanks to Woolooware Bay for providing such valuable training to our network of volunteers.

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.