A Halifax rugby league player’s campaign to encourage men to talk about mental health has taken the world by storm.
Former Leeds Rhinos star Luke Ambler set up Andy’s Man Club, alongside the Twitter hashtag #ItsOktoTalk in the face of personal tragedy.
Earlier this year, his brother-in-law Andrew committed suicide and Luke, 26, says the impact and devastation it caused was like nothing he had seen in his life.
He knew he needed to make a difference and the club, which runs at the Threeways Centre, Ovenden, was born.
He said: “Without any warning Andrew was taken away from all his family and friends by suicide. What is staggering is that 42 per cent of men aged 18 to 45 have considered suicide as an option.
“Then add to that, the single biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide. Around 4200 men, that’s one man every two hours, a year are taken from this world and their families by suicide, it is quite unbelievable that there isn’t that much awareness.
“What seems to be a big underlying problem for men is their inability to speak out about what is bothering them.”
The club is a place where men can do just that.
He added: “It’s a place where men can come and just talk and have a laugh and feel good about yourself, you don’t have to have had suicidal thoughts, you may just want some where to go and hang out with other people and learn more about yourself.
“Bring a friend and lets together try and reduce the stigma. This is purely to make a difference and I want to do it together.”
Fax star Luke then launched a Twitter campaign to spread the message even further.
People across the world, including celebrities, have been taking selfies with the ‘okay’ sign and sharing it with their followers with the hashtag #ItsOkaytoTalk and tagging friends to keep it going.
Luke now wants to start even more clubs across the country, and the world, and is encouraging people to donate via JustGiving to make the dream a reality.
Around £10,000 is needed to start 20 clubs and keep them running for at least six months.
To donate, visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/andysmanclub-itsokaytotalk.
-Andy’s Man Club runs every Monday evening, from 7pm, at Threeways, Ovenden.