Publication Details

Ravulo, J. (2015). Delivering the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Course within the National Rugby League (NRL): Evaluation Report. Western Sydney University.


Mental illness is a reality for many Australians. The National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, conducted in 2007 with people aged 16-85, revealed that one in five Australians, or 3.2 million people, had a 12-month mental disorder (a mental illness occurring 12 months before the survey took place) (ABS, 2007). The survey further revealed that 16 million Australians (45%) within this age bracket suffered with a mental illness at some point in their lives. While these findings are slowly becoming public knowledge, there is still a limited understanding amongst laypeople regarding the overt and more covert symptoms of mental illness, as well as appropriate methods of treatment and support for those that struggle with such challenges in their daily lives. Despite popular opinion, elite athletes are not exempt from these statistics. The pressures and expectations of clubs, coaches, fans and players themselves can reinforce feelings of isolation and loneliness (Storch and Ohslon, 2009), which discourage those experiencing mental illness to seek help. Compounding this sense of isolation are the physical, mental and emotional demands of elite athleticism partnered with the debilitating stigma that is rampart within the sports industry (Griffin, 2013). In response to the needs of such an underserviced population, this report assesses the effectiveness of the Mental Health First Aid course, for stakeholders across the National Rugby League (NRL), and their responses to the course. This course is run over one or two days, depending on the availability of each cohort, and provides an overview of a range of mental illnesses, their symptoms, and how lay people can be better trained in assessing symptoms and referring those in need to mental health care professionals.