Mental Health in Sport: State of Mind visits Parliament
On 25 October 2011, the Parliamentary Rugby League Group joined forces with the Parliamentary Mental Health Group in a special joint meeting to welcome the rugby league State of Mind campaign to the Palace of Westminster and hear about their innovative work dealing with issues surrounding mental health of sportsmen and women.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Rugby League Group Chair, Greg Mulholland said “I am very pleased that politicians have the opportunity to hear from the State of Mind programme. Very few are able to experience life as a professional sportsperson and therefore understand the huge pressures they must face. This is not only an innovative campaign, it is vital.
“I believe this is such an important issue for all sports that I invited all my Parliamentary colleagues to this special event and it is testament to the importance of this issue that Health Minister Paul Burstow is able to attend.”
Speaking at the meeting, Burstow added his support saying “In a challenging game like rugby league, it is really important that the players keep themselves in peak condition – mind as well as body.
“The State of Mind initiative is a brilliant way of raising the profile of mental health issues among players and supporters.
“I hope that this campaign will help break down the stigma that is often attached to mental health problems and make it easier for rugby players and fans to get the help they need. One in four of us will have a mental health problem at some point – we all need to know where to go to get the right help, instead of suffering in silence.”
“It’s inspiring that such a fantastic campaign has come from the tragedy of Terry Newton’s death. I wish it every success.”
Ex Great Britain rugby league and Ireland rugby union star, and supporter of State of Mind Brian Carney added his thoughts as a professional player “Athletes in all sports are susceptible to mental health issues and stressors like people in any walk of life. It is sometimes harder dealing with and talking about these issues when you are in the public eye and perceived to have ‘little to worry about’. It’s time to talk, time to use the goodwill of teammates, work colleagues, friends and family and let them know if you are struggling. The State of Mind campaign seeks to raise awareness around mental health, challenge perceptions and tackle problems amongst players, coaches and supporters at the earliest possible stage.”
Charles Walker, Chair of the Mental Health Group, spoke about the impact mental health issues have for sport and the wider economy “I was delighted to hear of the State of Mind programme and the work that it does in supporting clubs, their staff and their players. Mental health issues play a huge part in the wellbeing of the nation, its economy and its sporting excellence. It is very good to see that the sport of rugby league is addressing these issues head on.”