Monday, 3 March 2014

Sports stars discuss their State of Mind

The SSTO teamed up with rugby league charity State of Mind to host an innovative event designed to raise awareness of mental health issues in sport.

Ex-Rugby League stars Terry O'Connor, Brian Carney and Danny Sculthorpe, Hatton Promotions boxer Adam Little, former professional footballer Andy Brownrigg and ex-professional rugby league player Jimmy Gittins, shared their own personal experiences of dealing with mental health issues.

The event brought the professional athletes together with students, local sports clubs and other interested parties to discuss ways to get young males talking about mental health issues, how to offer support to people who are suffering and where to go for expert help.

Leona Trimble, Division Leader for Sports Coaching and Development, coordinated the event for SSTO and was delighted with its success: "I believe 'UCLan State of Mind' has laid down an excellent foundation for raising awareness of mental health, mental fitness and the role that sport can play. I see the event as just the start of our work in this area.

"We are keen to raise awareness, especially through the curriculum, about mental health and mental fitness and have more discussions on the role that sports coaches, sports therapists, sport scientists can play in identifying issues, communicating with athletes and signposting help.

"Tremendous thanks must go to the athletes and ex-professionals who shared their honest, moving and inspirational stories with us, to kick-start the discussions around these important issues and get us thinking about the next steps."

Malcolm Rae OBE, the former chair of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Mental Health Society and UCLan Honorary Fellow, co-founded State of Mind following the death of former Wigan Warriors star Terry Newton, who took his own life in 2010.

He commented: "Rugby league is a tough sport and there is a perception that players can't talk about their feelings because it is seen as being weak. State of Mind aims to challenge this and use sport as a way to bring people together to share problems and ask for help.

"Although the charity focuses on rugby league we're thrilled to welcome athletes from other disciplines to UCLan to get a broad perspective and share ideas of best practice."

Current student Gavin Allman said the event was a huge success. "The State of Mind team truly are a group of pioneers working on a very important shift within sport. I believe sport in general to have a huge influence on everyday people, and these guys are leading from the front in approaching such a taboo topic as mental health.

"Thank you for organising the event and please extend my gratitude to State of Mind for their fantastic work."

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