New Zealand Sports Stars Join Forces For Mental Health Awareness
Three professional cricketers have teamed up with a mental health project to help tackle the rate of youth suicide in New Zealand, which is the highest in the developed world according to a recent report. A Unicef report (‘Building the Future’) released in June this year found the country’s youth suicide rate - teenagers between 15 and 19 – was the highest in a list of 41 developed countries. Their rate of 15.6 suicides per 100,000 people is twice that of the US and Australia and over five times as high as the UK.
Opening Up is a not for profit community interest company that promotes mental wellbeing and suicide prevention through cricket. The organisation is supported by Kiwi cricketers Rob Nicol and Daryl Mitchell as well as Otago’s Christi Viljoen.
The project was set up following the death of English club cricketer Alex Miller in 2012, with his team mates keen to start conversations about mental health. Having been delivering 'mind and body' sessions to cricket clubs across the UK since 2014, Opening Up is now looking to spread the word to this side of the globe.
Mark Boyns, the founder of Opening Up, said: “We are very happy to be launching an Opening Up campaign in New Zealand to try and help address the mental health issues which the Unicef report has highlighted. “We’ve been able to successfully engage the cricket community in the UK to increase discussions about mental health and to help them look after it just as they would their physical health. “Now, alongside mental health charity Lifeline – and with the help of Rob, Daryl and Christi – we are spreading the message that it’s not weak to speak.”
Otago and former New Zealand batsman Rob Nicol said: “Last year in NZ 606 people chose suicide as an acute end to their depression. We as a nation know there is a problem but it’s getting worse not better. By promoting health and well being in our small knit community hopefully that will filter out into other parts of NZ.........cricket is a game where there are many chances for us to connect with each other whilst batting bowling fielding or sitting on the side line too watch. Asking how your mates actually doing really could be the precursor for them to reach out and ask for help. Opening Up NZ is a quality organization that the cricket community will benefit from I have no doubt.”
“We’re so pleased to partner with Opening Up, supporting the New Zealand cricket community. 0800 LIFELINE (543 354) is New Zealand’s largest helpline receiving over 10,000 calls a month. We provide 24/7, confidential support for people in distress.” “If you’re struggling, it’s important to let someone know and talk it through. And if you don’t feel like you can talk to someone you know, Lifeline is here for you” says Lifeline’s Executive Director , Glenda Schnell.
Opening Up Cricket is a not for profitcommunity interest company that promotes mental wellbeing and suicide prevention through cricket.