England Rugby and Simplyhealth team up through the RugbySafe player welfare programme to increase…

England Rugby and Simplyhealth team up through the RugbySafe player welfare programme to increase mental health support for the rugby community
Issued by Rugby Football Union

• One adult in six has a common mental health problem¹
• In 2019/20 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health cases²
• The economic and social costs of mental health problems in England are estimated at around £105 billion each year³
It’s no secret that we are in the middle of a mental health crisis, amplified by the anxieties of a global pandemic.

As the country emerges from lockdown, never has the significance of Mental Health Awareness Week been greater, or the ability to recognise that someone is struggling more important.

England Rugby and trusted healthcare partner Simplyhealth have joined forces through the RFU’s RugbySafe player welfare programme to provide additional advice and assistance for rugby clubs which are so often support hubs for their local communities.

Keeping the rugby community healthy
As part of the programme, England Rugby and Simplyhealth have developed a dedicated RugbySafe mental health resource for the community game. The new resource has been researched and prepared by the Mental Health Foundation to provide advice and guidance to help rugby communities recognise symptoms of poor mental health and direct members towards professionals if needed.

The new guide complements a series of mental health question and answer sessions for players and volunteers during lockdown. As part of the RugbySafe programme, Simplyhealth ambassadors Dylan Hartley and David Beeney, founder of Breaking the Silence, have shared personal experiences and suggestions on how to create open environments where teammates feel comfortable to talk and ask for help.

During Mental Health Awareness Week, England Rugby have been highlighting the integral role already played by rugby clubs across the country in supporting their communities. You can read about how clubs are raising mental health awareness here.

The hope is that the stigma around talking about our mental health and the resulting risks are being reduced by training in spotting the signs and a readiness to step in and offer help.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said: “I am impressed by the progress that we as a sport and a society have made in removing the stigma around talking about mental health. We have still got a long way to go but so many of our clubs have embraced mental health awareness and support that I am optimistic about the future.

“We often talk of the rugby family and the best families are always willing to listen and to help in challenging times. Many of us have been touched by tragedies which might have been avoided had we known and understood more – that knowledge and understanding is something that our sport is well placed to provide.

“We are a team sport and a sporting community, and I am most grateful to all of our clubs and Constituent Bodies who are working to improve the mental wellbeing of their players and members and keep those in the rugby family safe. We are very glad to have our partner Simplyhealth’s support in creating this excellent wellbeing resource for our rugby community.”

Simplyhealth Clinical Director, Catherine Rutland, added: “Now more than ever people and communities will be feeling the strain. Rugby clubs are the heart of many communities, often playing a vital role in keeping people happy and healthy.

“By providing a safe, welcoming, supportive environment, community rugby clubs already provide vital support to people’s mental health by providing access to exercise, reducing isolation, increasing social skills and increasing self-esteem.

“Many clubs even have dedicated initiatives for mental health. The work being achieved at local level is phenomenal, but no-one can expect coaches and volunteers to be mental health experts.

“We hope rugby communities around the country will find this new resource and our mental health question and answer sessions helpful, as they continue to provide support for others.”

Download the RugbySafe, supported by Simplyhealth, mental health guide for rugby clubs here

Mental Health Awareness & Training Information can be found here.

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