Tackling Men's Mental Health Stigma with Rugby

Maurice Richmond
By Maurice Richmond,
updated on Feb 27, 2018

Tackling Men's Mental Health Stigma with Rugby

A scheme gives men from deprived backgrounds the chance to learn mental fitness techniques from Rugby League clubs

More than 300 men have taken part in a ‘mental fitness’ programme, in partnership with top Rugby League teams.

Offload, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, aims to engage men from “deprived areas” and has called on help from Rugby League Cares and State of Mind Sport.

men playing rugby

It also has backing from Salford Red Devils Foundation, Warrington Wolves Foundation and Widnes Vikings Foundation.

The scheme gives fans the chance to go behind the scenes and learn how the trio of professional clubs develop mental fitness techniques.It comes as figures show that males account for 76% of UK suicides, yet only 36% of all psychological therapy referrals.

Offload launched in April 2017, and is a “10 fixture programme” designed to prevent mental health problems.

Each of the 10 fixtures hands power back to men, giving them evidence-based tools and techniques to practise.

Areas covered include wellbeing, mindfulness, stress management, emotional resilience, problem-solving, goal-setting, challenging negative thinking, anger management, work-life balance and others.

Emma Goldsmith, Health Programme Manager for Rugby League Cares, said: “As a sport, we recognise that a joined-up, fresh approach to men’s mental health is required.

“The statistics surrounding male suicide and male ill-health, particularly in areas of deprivation, are shocking. Suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 50 and a leading cause of death in young men.

“Rugby League’s core affinity areas stretch across northern England’s major cities and towns, covering many lower socio-deprived economic communities. “We have a unique opportunity to directly target, influence and engage men who may be facing wellbeing challenges, and support them to develop effective coping strategies, recognise when they require further support, and enable them to access help in their local area.”

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