Students begin project on mental fitness in Port Lincoln

STUDY: Occupational therapy students Kate Sargeant and Ellen Bowley with Lincoln South footballers Jacob Harvey and Luke Wilkins.
STUDY: Occupational therapy students Kate Sargeant and Ellen Bowley with Lincoln South footballers Jacob Harvey and Luke Wilkins.

A project with a focus on men's mental wellbeing and tying in local football clubs will hope to build the foundation for a future program to reduce the stigma of mental wellness and promote early intervention for men.

University of South Australia fourth year occupational therapy students Kate Sargeant and Ellen Bowley have begun their nine week community placement in Port Lincoln, which is titled 'Kicking Goals for Men's Wellbeing'.

Miss Sargeant said they had grown up around football and would follow on from a project done in Whyalla in the last two years.

"We chose it because it is a real community, football clubs...they are the heart of towns and we felt we could do a lot with that space," she said.

The two women are working with the Port Lincoln Football League and its clubs, service providers and the community to find out local needs.

They aim to distribute a community wide survey through health services and on club Facebook pages as well as a display at the Port Lincoln Community Library.

Workshops have also been planned to provide information on what health services people can access, programs they can use and what a men's wellness program in a football club can look like.

They hoped to pass on the findings for a different pair to take on for next year to build a foundation for a program to promote men's mental fitness and early intervention.

Miss Sargeant said they also hoped to create a reference group with key stakeholders and community members.

She said everyone they had talked to had been interested as they hoped to get more people talking about how people could look after their mental wellbeing.

"When we affect our physical fitness, we have tools to help us in our struggles whereas with mental fitness we don't have those tools to help us," she said.

Lincoln South coach Paul Stelzer said it was great to see this happen as there should be more discussion on men's mental wellness at football clubs.

"In a footy club it's sort of taboo to talk about it...it's a place where we should talk about it because we're surrounded by mates," he said.

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