People living with mental wellbeing challenges will have more opportunities to access community sport, under a new agreement between the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health and QSport.

The two peak bodies will work to forge local connections between the hundreds of community mental health services and the thousands of suburban and regional sporting clubs in Queensland.

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health Director Sarah Childs says the agreement has the potential to help people experiencing mental health challenges gain a sense of belonging, as well as promote the obvious physical health benefits.

“Access to a local sporting club will help people to feel part of their local community, they can partake in a physical activity, they can volunteer, they can make burgers in the canteen, they can make friends and feel connected to the community in which they live,” Ms Childs said.

“Of course, there are also the physical health benefits of playing sport and we know that people with mental illness do experience much higher levels of chronic disease and physical health issues.”

QSport is the representative body for organised, affiliated sport in Queensland. QSport CEO Peter Cummiskey says sporting clubs will benefit from increased engagement with their communities.

“A club doesn’t exist without people and there are people out there all the time who are interested but may not just feel sufficiently encouraged to come forward,” Mr Cummiskey said.

“People need to be encouraged, put your arm around them, bring them into the club and make them part of it.”

The Queensland Rugby Union has a longstanding mental health program, In Touch, to teach people how to recognise the signs of stress, anxiety and depression. QRU Board member Jane Schmitt, who was also at the signing, said the agreement would help more people learn about and improve their mental wellbeing.

“It’s just a natural part of what we should be doing, in the community with our sport, and the broader reach we have in this will make all the difference,” Ms Schmitt said.

Media contact: Emma Griffiths, QAMH Director-Advocacy and Communications

Phone: 07 3394 8480; m 0439 971 080