4 September 2019

NZ Rugby tackling silence as part of new mental wellbeing campaign

A Moment Against Silence
Mental Health

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is encouraging fans to take a stand against silence as part of a new campaign, launched today, to support the conversation around mental health and the stigma associated with getting help.

Driven by HeadFirst, NZR's mental health and wellbeing programme, A Moment Against Silence aims to normalise the act of reaching out to others who may be going through tough times.

Fans attending the All Blacks v Tonga Test in Hamilton this Saturday can play their part during a special Moment Against Silence at 2.21pm at FMG Waikato Stadium, where they’ll be urged to make as much noise as possible.

Among those putting their weight behind the cause is HeadFirst Ambassador and former All Black, Keven Mealamu.

“Everyone goes through tough times, and rugby players and the rugby community are no different. We want it to be normal to support each other through life's challenges, and having a mate reach out can make a big difference. 

“Talking about how you’re feeling is often seen as too hard to do – and at first it may not be easy. We need to remind everyone that staying silent isn’t the answer.

“We want to create a really special moment at the Test in Hamilton and hopefully it will encourage everyone in New Zealand to reach out and check in with a mate.”

NZR Education and Wellbeing Manager, Dr Nathan Price, said the campaign flipped the idea of a minute's silence on its head.

“A minute’s silence is commonly used to show our respect and observe a loss or tragedy, however when it comes to mental wellbeing silence is the last thing we need. A Moment Against Silence aims to encourage people to reach out, speak up and make some noise.

“One of the key strategies when it comes to looking after those going through tough times is to proactively lend support and direct a mate to places where they can get help."

Dr Price said he hoped this would be an ongoing initiative.

“We want to encourage people to create their own Moments Against Silence, even if it’s as simple as sending a text to a mate.”

“Together let’s prevent the next minute of silence by having a Moment Against Silence.”

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson said one in five Kiwis experience mental illness or distress every year and it can be an incredibly lonely experience. 

"Mental illness can make people feel worthless or that they’re not good enough. As mates, whanau and teammates, it’s up to us to say that isn’t true, we care, we need you in the game, we’ll stand by you when times are tough and help you come out the other side.

“This campaign is a great opportunity to make some noise to show how much we care – and then back that noise up with action. 

“If you’re worried about someone, trust your gut and ask how they’re doing. Don’t just ask once – it can take a few tries for people to work up the courage to give an honest answer. Be there for them, stay involved and walk alongside them. Your support can make all the difference.”

Note: Anyone seeking advice on mental health or wellbeing, or experiencing stress, anxiety or depression, can free call or text 1737 to chat to a trained professional.​