Arguably tougher than any other profession, referees require a great deal of mental fortitude in their performance. But like everyone else, they are all met with the same difficult challenges life throws at us.

120 NSWRL match officials and groundsmen were on hand on the weekend, learning about the need to improve mental health and wellbeing – as an important part in every aspect of their lives.

“One out of every two adults – half the population – will face mental health disorders at some point in their life,” said NSWRL Welfare and Education Officer, Greg Nichols. “One out of five adults currently face a mental health disorder.

“Everyone falls at some point – it’s inevitable. But prioritising resilience gives you the confidence to know you will bounce back and grow as a stronger person.”

There is an increasing awareness to be mentally healthy, and rugby league is playing its part to assist as part of its role in society with programs like NRL Aware and the Resilience Project.

NRL Aware is an online program educating on a vital range of topics including drugs, alcohol, gambling, domestic abuse and significant relationships. But adversity can come in any other shape, size or form in our lives too.

“Even at the smallest level, we face adversity in all aspects of life,” said Nichols. “This program is designed to improve decision making in the face of adversity no matter who, what, when or where.”

Working with the NRL, Newcastle Knights and Melbourne Storm, the Resilience Project is a proven success in rugby league.

Delivering emotionally engaging workshops, the Resilience Project provides a number of practical strategies – including an expressive theatre sports session – to build resilience and develop healthy minds.

“Theatre sports helped apply the theory for a specific situation, whether it’s in a social setting or with drugs, alcohol or gambling,” said Nichols.

“Officials and groundsmen were put in compromising positions to see how they would react. It’s then broken down to analyse how and why they reacted that way, and examine how they can better react for the future.”

While small steps are being taken in meeting concerns to address mental health and its importance, rugby league and the NSWRL are playing their part in pushing an essential central issue for society.