NSW Waratahs and former Wanderers hooker Andrew Tuala will return to Hunter fields this week as part of an initiative to improve mental health in drought-affected communities.
The NSW Positive Rugby Foundation and youth mental health organisation batyr have teamed up for the six-stop Get Talkin Tour, which visits Newcastle on Tuesday and Maitland on Wednesday.
Head of the foundation, Greg Mumm, said a lot of people get a "sense of family and community" from involvement with their rugby club.
"We want to use rugby's ability to bring people together to start conversations about mental health and hope it will ripple out to the community," he said.
"The idea is to go through a process of awareness, where in the second year they can look at a certificate for mental health first aid and in the third year have a train the trainee model."
He said the tour will visit Newcastle High and Cessnock High, where batyr will conduct mental health awareness clinics and students will participate in rugby clinics.
This will be followed by Tuala and Waratahs staff hosting a 5.30pm skills and drills clinic for coaches and volunteers - with Matt Everard at No. 2 Sportsground on Tuesday and Chris Whittaker at Maitland Rugby Club on Wednesday - followed by batyr running 6.30pm mental health ambassador workshops in the clubhouses and free 8.30pm barbecues.
"The workshop covers what resources are in the local community and how to direct people to the right sources of information or further help," he said.
"It's about building awareness to spot the signs, be confident to talk about it and break down the stigma.
"We actively encourage people to not feel like they are the solution and to know when it's necessary to refer to the professionals."