Rugby League and the NHS are coming together this weekend for Stobart Super League Round 27 to highlight the importance of good mental health and wellbeing.
The RFL and its charitable arm Rugby League Cares have created an initiative with funding from Sport Relief which aims to improve mental wellbeing in Rugby League communities through the work of the Super League clubs’ own charitable foundations.
As part of this programme, Rugby League is working with the National Health Service to use Round 27 to promote the steps everyone can take to look after their mental wellbeing and encouraging them to log on to a web page specially created by NHS Choices, www.nhs.uk/rugbyleaguecares.
The NHS Confederation and its Mental Health Network are also supporting the programme so that fans can find out more about local mental health services.
Over the weekend of September 7-9, Super League clubs and players will be making a very visible commitment to the programme by wearing specially designed T-shirts and stressing that anyone and everyone can find life challenging but that help is at hand, whether it’s taking action to improve your mental health, finding out more information or getting support from experts.
Clubs will also be promoting their own local initiatives for fans to help them strengthen their mental wellbeing.
Rugby League Cares General Manager Chris Rostron said: “Rugby League is coming together for Round 27 to get across the message that you can do a lot to look after your mental wellbeing, and that if you are worried about yourself, a friend or family member – or just want reassurance - you can get high quality, confidential information and help.
“Rugby League has a proud tradition of supporting its fans and local communities. Many people don’t realise just how common mental health issues are or what you can do about them.
“Our campaign is part of a much wider programme of action to promote better mental health and wellbeing. We are working with Sport Relief through a whole range of locally-based projects as well as through our partnership with the NHS. We are very grateful to Sport Relief for providing funding so that we can make this happen and reach so many people in local communities”.
Mike Farrar, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation and National Tsar for Sport and Health, welcomed the partnership between Rugby League and the NHS.
He said: “Our mental wellbeing is an asset, just like our physical health. It is well known that sport can be a great tonic for helping us deal with stress and depression.
“That is why we are delighted to be working with Rugby League Cares and the RFL to reach out to local communities and help raise awareness of mental health issues and highlight the benefits that sports can deliver, for our bodies and our minds.
“We want to help spread the message that people can improve their mental wellbeing by getting involved in sport. This initiative presents a great opportunity to raise awareness of local mental health services available to them if they need help or support.”
Professor Alan White, Professor of Men’s Health, Institute for Health and Wellbeing, Leeds Metropolitan University, who is evaluating the programme said: “It is great that Rugby League is promoting messages about looking after your mental health.
“It’s important that we understand mental health better. For instance, many people don’t recognise the signs of their own mental distress. The campaign lets people know where they can get information and support. I am really looking forward to seeing how this initiative can add to our understanding of how to reach out to men.”