Clubs vary wildly in how well they manage people’s health and well-being.

There’s a bit of ‘that’s not my problem’, sometimes.

Other times, people simply don’t know how to help.

If someone has or is thinking about asking for support, they’ll only follow through if they feel their peers encourage reaching out, and are prepared to meaningfully support them in whatever way that person needs.

When a club commits to becoming a place of respect, fun, fairness, safety and success, by definition, it’s committing to an intrinsic involvement in the well-being of it’s people.

In any community of people there will always be issues of health and well-being. It’s extremely likely that more of your peers than you realise are grappling with issues like anxiety, depression, grief and loss, eating disorders, an abusive relationship, a drink or other drug problem, problems at home with the kids or issues at work.

Sports clubs are no exception. 

In fact, they’re the place people are most likely to seek support, and so are enormously powerful.

Equipping your people with the confidence and resources to reach out and support one another in the club, is equipping them to do the same outside of it, too.

Now, those are some serious skills.

Some important steps:

  • Step 1 - Become more aware

    Key people in the club need to be across the common well-being issues likely to be expressed in and around the club.

    Some recent survey research found that on average:

    • Kids tell 5 people before anyone does anything about their issue
    • 1 in 5 people are dealing with a mental health issue
    • Family violence is the fastest growing area of crime in our community
    • More than a million kids are living in households where their carers’ drinking is a concern, and about 10,000 of those children are in the child protection system as a consequence of their carers’ drinking
    • A third of all deaths of young men are due to suicide.
  • Step 2 - Import some training

    This can be really tricky terrain for clubs.

    If someone confides in you, there are three important principles to adhere to.

    First, you need to respect their privacy. Loose talk is out of bounds. 

    Second, you need to listen carefully and with the utmost sensitivity.

    Third, you need to be able to suggest a way for the person to get help. This doesn’t mean you have to fix it, or that you have to be an expert or know what help is available, but you can ask their permission to take it to someone in the club who has relevant information of the available help for that person’s problem.

    A club should actively seek out relevant, authoritative professionals and ensure that all the key people in club are exposed to this level of education – including the coach, president and team manager.

    There is a lot at stake here and your club needs to get it right.

    Make sure, at all times, there are strong understandings of basic do’s and dont’s when it comes to dealing with people on issues of health and well-being:

    • observing protocols
    • providing safe listening
    • preserving confidentiality and
    • responding effectively.

    See Club Respect’s B.A.S.I.C guide for supporting members.

  • Step 3 - Establish good liaison with health professionals
    Every club operates in local communities where there are health professionals and other experts who would be only too willing to lend a hand to a well-intentioned sports club.

    One surefire way to start this relationship would be to host a session at your club where you invite doctors, other health providers, teachers and counsellors to attend and brief your club on issues of well-being in your local community.

    You will need to ensure the qualifications and experience of your presenter.

    We suggest contacting the peak bodies responsible for providing information and support on mental health, such as Beyond Bluefor a list of preferred practitioners.

  • Step 4 - Advertise community support services

    Sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint these among many.

    If you are unsure of the best sources, start by having a conversation with someone in your local council community services area or with well-known health and well-being organisations.

    Post core information resources up in your clubrooms, on notice boards and on the club website.

  • Step 5 - Bring in guest speakers

    There are always people who will be prepared to come to your club and share their insight and advice on topics regarding people’s well-being, on matters ranging from child and adolescent health, diet and nutrition, mental health, violence, abuse and healthy relationships.

    If you are unsure where to start, you can always contact the Club Respect team with a phone or email enquiry.

  • Step 6 - Moment in time support

    Good practical support in the moment.

    It’s important that your club provides appropriate support if members and supporters become unwell or get hurt at the club.

    Put together a reliable and up-to-date emergency information covering such things as strokes, heart attack, serious falls, or other accidents on site.

    The club should be vigilant about uneven surfaces, cracked paving, slippery stairs and so on.

  • Provide an MPIO in your club

    Member Protection Information Officers (MPIO’s) can act as a point of contact for people seeking support.

    They’re trained to offer independent information and advice.

    Play by the Rules offers a free MPIO training course.