As co-captain and senior player of the Gold Coast SUNS, Touk Miller serves as a role model to his teammates. From his pre-game pep talk and voice on the field, right through to his post-game media commitments, his football leadership can be seen by all. But what many don’t always see is Miller’s leadership off the field.
Miller is a proud ambassador for Tackle Your Feelings, a mental health initiative that focuses on providing community football clubs with programs that help participants gain the tools to understand, recognise and respond to signs of mental ill-health in their players.
As part of his role, last week Miller used his platform to speak to a room full of men aged 15-25 on his own experiences around mental health and wellbeing.
In a powerful and candid conversation, he modelled vulnerability by speaking about the rollercoaster ride that is AFL football and how a family tragedy bought him ‘back down to reality’.
He spoke about being there for others, the power of listening and how small gestures can have big impacts.
Speaking on the bond he has with his teammates, Miller said there is a special sense of family amongst the SUNS group.
“Connection is one of the club’s values, but it’s more than writing on the wall, it’s an action,” he said.
Partnerships and Communications Lead at Tackle Your Feelings Australia, Ben Guthrie agrees that sporting clubs play a special role in connecting people.
“The connection that footy clubs provide can help people feel comfortable in talking about their own mental health and wellbeing because of the environment that’s been created,” he said.
“Sporting clubs are a vehicle to bring people together and often provide a safe environment for young men to express themselves and be around their mates.”
According to the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, Headspace, “young Australian males have the lowest rates of help-seeking of any demographic group.”
Addressing this, they took the initiative to team up with Tackle Your Feelings and the SUNS, to create the event and bring about change.
“We believe that tackling this issue through sport alongside footy legend Touk Miller will help us reach young men and normalise conversations around mental health,” said Southport Headspace’s Community Engagement Coordinator Emily Allen.
Positively using his profile, Miller isn’t just making a difference on the football field but out in the community.