JON Wilkin believes Rugby League stars can be role models by engaging in the State of Mind campaign.
The forward thinks that because sporting professionals are so close, it is easier for them to identify and express mental health problems than if they were in a ‘normal’ 9-5 job.
“Hopefully, the campaign will be a quirky way of educating players, coaches and just as importantly, the wider public,” he said. “The message isn’t just to professional sports people; it’s to everyone who watches sport and everyone who doesn’t. If alpha-male sportspeople like us can come out and admit they’ve got mental health problems, then the wider public should feel they are able too.
“We’re really lucky at Saints because we have such a strong bond and that’s probably the same right throughout rugby league because you put your body on the line for each other. You’re such a tight knit group, we’re all brothers, so we can try to talk about these things.”
The England international, who will star in a State of Mind viral video, also said that the session he and took part in will help them to identify problems amongst their teammates.
“When we undertook the session, it was about learning how to share your experiences,” he added. “A couple of high profile people within the sport were able to do that – it was about having the confidence to be frank and get it out there.
“One key thing is that we are not invincible – even rugby players can be defeated! An important part of your tool kit is your mind and you need to make sure that’s well looked after. We learnt on how to spot someone who is potentially having a little bit of trouble so the session was really useful.
“State of Mind is a massive reminder to us on how important your mental fitness is not just for your performance, but for your wellbeing.”
Now in its third year, State of Mind explores and promotes initiatives relating to suicide prevention by targeting groups to deliver a range of awareness raising options focusing on mental fitness and resilience.
Almost 1,000 players, coaches and support staff from Super League and the Championships, the three professional leagues in this country, have attended State of Mind sessions, with 95% of those attending never having had mental health training before.
Sessions continue to be run at Super League clubs in particular focusing on mental fitness to ensure people can manage the ups and downs of life effectively and encourage people to access support if it is needed.