St Kilda's Next Generation Academy has officially partnered with mental health support business Outside The Locker Room for Season 2019.

NGA Manager Jack Henty said the new partnership reaffirmed the Saints' commitment to an integrated approach in the development of young football talent.

“In the process of preparing the next generation for the AFL and AFLW, we also see it as our responsibility to develop better players for not only the elite competitions but also for community football," he explained.

"We want to play our part in reducing the negative stigma of mental health that still exists in some parts of the community, particularly in the sporting context.”

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Throughout March and April, Outside The Locker Room will educate on topics such as Mental Health, Drugs, Cyber Bullying, and Social Media.

Over 250 under-15 Saints, NGA participants (and their parents) will have access to ongoing support over 12 months via the OTLR App and website.

“We value a holistic approach in the development of all our players – both on and off the field. If our players have a healthy mindset, they will reach their potential,” Henty said.

Our legacy in developing these kids also needs to be more than just identifying and developing top-end talent; we need to better prepare players for the next stage of their lives – tertiary education, employment, relationships and leading a well-balanced life."

OTLR Program Manager Brad Sykes was thrilled at the prospect of playing such a prominent role in athlete development in an AFL system.

“We are delighted to be providing mental health education and support to the young talent in the Bayside region”, he said.

“Facilitating open conversations and creating support networks through the challenging adolescent years is a very positive movement in the Mental Health challenges our society is facing.”

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OTLR Founder and CEO Jake Edwards echoed Sykes' sentiments:

“We really appreciate the proactive approach the St Kilda Football Club has towards supporting their next generation in the mental health space.

“They are a leader for their community and AFL clubs.”

Outside The Locker Room provides education and welfare support to community and elite sporting clubs around Australia.