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Rugby league players spend months toiling under the summer sun to make sure they are physically fit enough to compete at the top level.

Now the Gold Coast Titans are ensuring the mental fitness of the Club’s players and staff is also being exercised and developed, working together with The Resilience Project to manage and improve mental health.

This week, all Titans players and staff took part in a lecture from Hugh van Cuylenburg, who is the Founding Director of The Resilience Project, an organisation that delivers programs and strategies to everyone from elite athletes to primary school children about how to build better mental health and find more happiness in their lives.

Far from a run-of-the-mill lecture, Hugh’s visit was an engaging, hilarious and eye-opening look into the importance of mental health and how using strategies to make simple changes will create a healthier and happier mindset.

The Titans join 15 other NRL clubs, nine AFL clubs, 10 A-League soccer clubs and the Australian cricket, netball, basketball and women’s soccer teams participating in the program, helping players learn ways to handle the pressure, expectation, disappointment and success that comes with elite-level sport.

Hugh’s talk centred around the key aspects of showing gratitude, empathy and mindfulness as the path to better mental health – finding the GEM in their lives every day.

“We do a lot of work in elite sport, whether it is NRL, AFL, A-League, cricket,” Hugh said. “It is always a great privilege to come to a place like the Gold Coast Titans though, because I think it is really important that the players are educated on this stuff.

“We have 25 per cent of adolescents with a mental illness. One-in-five adults will experience a mental illness throughout the year – that is just the average Australian.

“But (then) you put on top of that the pressure that come with elite sport, the scrutiny that they are exposed to, the pressure to perform, all that type of stuff.”

Hugh said the response from the Titans players had been excellent, and he applauded the Club’s hierarchy for taking the Titans administrative staff along to ensure good mental health was at front of mind right across the Club.

“If you practise gratitude, if you practise empathy, if you practise mindfulness, if you stay connected – socially connected and emotionally connected – that is really good for your mental health,” Hugh said.

“To be able to come here and give them the practical strategies to go away and actually practise this stuff, it was a real privilege,” Hugh said.

For more information on the work of The Resilience Project, go to their website at theresilienceproject.com.au