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.
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.
Now, those are some serious skills.
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:
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.
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:
See Club Respect’s B.A.S.I.C guide for supporting members.
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 Blue, for a list of preferred practitioners.
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.
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.
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.
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.