Players and staff from Sale Sharks Rugby Club have released a collection of videos aiming to boost awareness of mental health as part of World Mental Health Day.
AJ MacGinty, Marland Yarde, Tom Brady and Jonny Leota joined with club staff and Sale Sharks’s Community Trust team to create a series of snapshot posts, which urge people to find time to listen to others and offer support to friends and family.
The Trust will present a seminar with military veteran Craig Monaghan, who, whilst serving in Afghanistan, lost almost 75 per cent of his hearing during one of the bloodiest battles of the conflict and saw ten of his friends killed.
After returning home injured, he struggled with his mental health before opening up to a friend and seeking help.
He now plays for the England Deaf Rugby team and is a project lead for the Trust’s ‘Sharks Forces’ programme that tackles social isolation as well as mental and physical wellbeing for ex-armed forces personnel.
The Premiership Rugby side released the videos on the Trust’s social media channels here in support of World Mental Health Day – a global initiative aiming to educate, raise awareness and tackle the stigma around mental health.
The Trust has also teamed up with recruitment firm, Morson International, to commission a white paper focused on tackling mental health in the workplace. With more than 12.5 million working days lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2017, the research – available here – explores the state of mental health in workplaces across the UK.
Vicky Irwin, Community Development Manager at Sale Sharks Community Trust, said: "Thanks to a host of global and community awareness raising projects, mental health is not the taboo subject it was just a few years ago, but more can be done to encourage people to open up and that’s why we all felt it was important to continue raising awareness on World Mental Health day this year.
"It was great to have some of our top players involved in this video, which we hope will help highlight the importance of mental wellbeing and encourage people to provide a listening ear for friends and family when they need it.
Continue reading below.
"At the highest level of sport, the lads can be under intense pressure and are often regarded as role models to a lot of young fans, and that's why we really wanted them involved in this campaign.
"But it's not just top-level athletes who are impacted – mental health now affects around one in four people around the world, so it's really important that we continue to highlight it. Just listening to someone going through a hard time can often be the first step to helping them open up about how they're feeling and go on to seek further support."
Sale Sharks Community Trust has been heavily involved in a range of programmes aiming to tackle some of the stigma around mental health, with military veteran Monaghan, who also stars in the videos, helping to deliver workshops around the North West.
And he shares his story to support another of the Trust’s programmes, ‘Balls to That’, that has delivered seminars across the north west for over 12 months as part of an on going campaign.
"I'm far enough down the line now that I can talk about the challenges I faced and I can honestly say that having someone to listen to me was the turning point", said Craig. "A friend simply asked me how I was doing and for some reason I found myself opening up. I remember telling them that I wasn't doing that well and once I spoke out, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
"There's a real stigma around mental health – especially in men – and I think it's really important that we try and break those barriers down. The research with Morson as part of our Balls to That has also been really interesting to put together and helps to show what more can be done to tackle mental health in the workplace.
"For me, I personally found a lot of comfort in rugby and now I'm using my experience to give something back. Helping others that might be facing their own personal challenges is really rewarding and has given me something to focus my time and energy on."