A PLAN for sporting clubs to take the lead in helping people with depression to access the services they need, which was outlined in the Western Advocate this week, has a lot going for it.
Damien Grant, a former colts coach at the Bathurst Bulldogs, has an idea that rugby clubs like the Bulldogs can appoint someone who can act as the middle man between those who are feeling that things are starting to get on top of them and agencies like Lifeline that can provide the support to make a difference.
Central West Rugby is enthusiastic about the idea, encouraging all its clubs to appoint someone to this role and to send the nominated person to a workshop to get the information and the background they need to be effective.
Mr Grant says his idea is for these nominated people – who will be called support co-ordinators – not to act as counsellors, but to be mates ready to help out mates.
If someone within the club – whether player, supporter, sponsor or partner – feels that they need help, the support co-ordinator will have the details for the agencies that can provide that help.
Similarly, if the support co-ordinator notices a dramatic change in someone within the club, they might gently remind that person of the help that is out there.
We are living lives of perpetual electronic and digital connection these days, but plenty of studies show we feel more isolated than ever.
Social media offers a window into others’ glamorous, successful and problem-free days – and not everyone feels they measure up well in comparison.
Not all of us want to admit to a stranger that we are finding life hard, but talking to a mate is different.
Talking to a mate – and that’s what the best sporting clubs are; a big bunch of mates – might be the first step to acknowledging that there are problems.
It might also be the first step to being introduced to the agencies that are out there to help with those problems.
Mr Grant and Central West Rugby deserve congratulations for looking at this issue in a new way and coming up with fresh solutions.
And if this idea spreads throughout rugby clubs in the state – or even sporting clubs in general – we can say it all started right here.
And that’s something that can be a source of pride for Bathurst.