One rugby union player’s concerns over the way sportsmen are told not to show weakness has lead to the creation of a new charity campaign.
Leeds’s James Griffin has got the go ahead to start his own charity, Talk Outside The Scrum, with plans for a 24-hour phone line.
The 41-year-old, who has played rugby for over 30 years, warns the way players are encouraged to be tough contributes to a silent struggle with mental health.
“When you first start playing rugby you have it drilled into you “don’t show weakness”.
“That’s what made me think it’s a rough and tough sport played by rough and tough men.”
After seeing friends struggle with depression, James began to worry they might not be the only ones.
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James, from Farsley, said sportsmen forced to take early retirement due to injuries or age might feel embarrassed to talk about how they feel.
“Everyone knows a local amateur sports man of some description. It’s not just rugby oriented.”
The business development manager said the charity is independent and for all rugby sportsmen, no matter which team they play for.
“Don’t be afraid to be afraid, discuss it.”
In 2016, a research project organised by YouGov for the Mental Health Foundation found 28% of men did not seek medical help for their last mental health problem, compared to 19% of women.
James managed to reach his goal of £995 in just six days from donations on his Just Giving page.
“What I have discovered is there’s a lot of people donating saying ‘I have struggled with this’.”
“It is a very close to heart thing.”
James has said a massive thank you to all those who donated, having already sent the forms to become a registered charity.
“Now the work really starts. If anyone wants to still donate, we’d love that. It all goes in the pot.”
James is appealing for any volunteers, especially those who have experience in rugby.
The money will go towards payment to become a registered charity meaning the government can get involved, as well as being able to partner up with other organisations.
James has plans for a mixed rugby League and Union game as well as meet ups.