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The NRL today announced the NRL State of Mind ambassadors for 2016 including Dyldam Parramatta Eels half Luke Kelly, the incumbant Blue and Gold ambassador.

The State of Mind ambassadors include representatives from all 16 clubs, the Harvey Norman Jillaroos and Touch Football Australia and form part of the campaign to reduce stigma around mental illness.

Now in its third year, the NRL State of Mind program aims to encourage players, clubs and communities to speak up and seek help if they are experiencing any form of difficulty or difference in their mood.

"I've had some experiences with some people close to me who have suffered from mental illness," Kelly said.

"It is something that I'm interested in and want to learn more about. If I can help in any way I can I am very keen to do so."

"There are always pressures in every job, but in football you also have pressure to perform; to play well and train well," the Eels half said.

"At club level we have a lot of great support staff whether it is coaches, trainers or our welfare department. There is always someone to help or who is willing to listen.

"It can be difficult in a rugby league setting where you don't want to be seen as weak or letting your team down.

"It's definitely not a weakness. Mental illness is something that can affect anyone. The quicker you can talk about it the quicker you can get on top of it."

One in two Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, with suicide the biggest killer of individuals aged 15 – 44.

The State of Mind Ambassadors, who are current NRL squad members, volunteered for the roles because they wanted to make a difference in the area of mental health.

"I'm currently studying my diploma in youth work. Through that program we do a lot of work with kids at risk - kids who aren't really in the mainstream in terms of schooling and sport, kids who don't have the best home life," Kelly said.

"It opens your eyes and makes your realise how lucky you are. To be able to help these kids is something I'm very keen on and passionate about."

After extensive consultation with coalition partners and junior clubs, an NRL State of Mind grassroots program has also been developed and will be delivered to select junior clubs throughout 2016.

The aim of the program is to:

•   Reduce the stigma around mental health within clubs and communities

•   Increase mental health literacy across grassroots Rugby League clubs

•   Stimulate help seeking behaviours amongst club members and communities

To learn more about the program and if you or anyone you know would like support, visit

2016 NRL State of Mind ambassadors

Moses Mbye – Canterbury Bulldogs

Iosia Soliola – Canberra Raiders

Joseph Paulo – Cronulla Sharks

David Shillington – Gold Coast Titans

Dane Gagai – Newcastle Knights

Suaia Matagi – Penrith Panthers

James Segeyaro – Penrith Panthers

David Tyrrell – South Sydney Rabbitohs

Boyd Cordner – Sydney Roosters

Dale Finucane – Melbourne Storm

Jeff Robson – New Zealand Warriors

Matt Ballin – Wests Tigers

Ruan Sims – Australian Jillaroos

Samantha Hopkin – Touch Football Australia

2015 NRL State of Mind ambassadors – continuing in 2016

Darius Boyd – Brisbane Broncos

Sam Tagataese – Cronulla Sharks

Brenton Lawrence – Manly Warringah Sea-Eagles

Josh Starling – Manly Warringah Sea-Eagles

Tariq Sims – Newcastle Knights

Michael Morgan – North Queensland Cowboys

Luke Kelly – Parramatta Eels

Joel Thompson – St George Illawarra Dragons

John Palavi – New Zealand Warriors

Dene Halatau – Wests Tigers


Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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