Time 2 Talk
Spud's Game 2022Image by: St Kilda Football Club
Time 2 Talk
23 June 2022

Spud’s Game 2022: A win for mental health

3 minutes read time

Thousands tuned in and turned out to Marvel Stadium on Friday night to watch the Saints take on the Bombers, in the second inaugural Spud’s Game. The match for mental health honours the late Danny ‘Spud’ Frawley; a footy legend who championed the destigmatisation of mental health. With almost 1 in 2 Aussies experiencing mental ill-health at some point in their life, there’s never been a better Time 2 Talk about mental health and suicide prevention. To go beyond the banter and take action for the mental health of our mates.

Pre-game, as lights dimmed around the stadium, a wave of mental health statistics appeared on screen, leading into an interactive ‘Time 2 Talk’ immersion with the crowd. Phones lit up the stadium as audience members pledged to reach out to a mate doing it tough and check-in.

At 7:50pm AEST, instead of the usual opening bounce, players, staff and officials from both teams gathered arm-in-arm to hear from Frawley’s former teammate Nathan Burke and Essendon great Tim Watson. The 2-minute delay and discussion reflected on the importance of this match and the need to continue Spud’s work and legacy – to keep the conversation going and stop our mates dying too young.

This year the mental health match raised over $600,000 and still counting.

The funds raised through Spud’s Game will help support lifesaving mental health and suicide prevention programs, delivered through the Danny Frawley Centre for Health and Wellbeing, including Movember’s Ahead of the Game - a program that has been facilitated to more than 1,100 players, coaches and parents across the community since the inaugural Spud’s Game.

Sport is a popular environment for young men and women, and a powerful context for encouraging conversations about mental health. Movember’s Ahead of the Game is a community sport-based mental health program which teaches young players, coaches, and parents how to talk about mental health, get help when needed and overcome life's challenges.

The community at Langwarrin Football Club have experienced first-hand the positive impact the Ahead of the Game program can have on players and the wider community. Earlier this year, the Club wanted to bring together young players, parents and coaches to talk about common mental health problems, teach them how to look out for signs that a teammate, friend, son or daughter, might be struggling and what they can do to help.

In 2021, the Club lost Jarrod, a beloved member of their community to suicide.When speaking with Jarrod’s father, Michael, he reinforced the importance of prevention-focused programs like Ahead of the Game which aim to improve mental wellbeing and resilience by breaking down stigmas surrounding mental health and encouraging people to check in with one another.

Michael commented, “if we don’t talk, don’t observe and don’t listen, we can't help”.

Sporting clubs play a huge role in providing a seamless connection and sense of community for so many men across Australia, throughout their lives. Sporting communities bolster mental health, give men connection and something to look forward to. Movember’s research has shown that taking part in organised sport during adolescence is associated with a 35% reduction in suicidal thoughts among boys.

The community needs to continue coming together to break down the taboos and stigmas that exist around men’s mental health. Connecting with one another is crucial to ensuring men are living happier, healthier lives. Beyond Spud’s Game we can continue to live out Spud’s mantra and look out for one another.

If you or a mate are going through a tough time and need to talk to someone immediately, please reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14. Alternatively, you can also find more places to get help at: movember.com/getsupport