This Campaign Encourages Rugby Players to Seek Help for Mental Illness

Mental health issues can affect absolutely anyone, even—or especially—people who seem to have it all together. That’s why both experts and people who have struggled with mental health say it’s so important to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness, and in turn, make it easier for people to get help when they need it. The first step: discussing how common it is to struggle with mental health in the first place. As a new campaign from the Rugby Players’ Association in England shows, it can make someone’s burden feel so much lighter.

The campaign, aptly titled “Lift the Weight,” revolves around rugby players discussing their experiences with mental health issues. A video announcing the campaign’s launch features action shots of the players in their element on the pitch spliced together with interviews of them talking honestly about grappling with their troubles.

Some major current and former rugby stars make cameos in the video. “You never realize how much is weighing you down until you get that weight off your shoulders,” says Kane Palma-Newport, a player for Bath Rugby. “The best thing I’ve ever done as an athlete was accept that I needed to talk,” says Nolli Waterman, who plays on England’s national rugby team and who has won a world championship.

The message is clear: Although athletes embody physical strength, it doesn’t mean they aren’t vulnerable to feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety, and other emotions some people are all too quick to judge as “weaknesses” (even though they’re basically part of the human condition).

Although this campaign is based across the pond, it’s clearly relevant stateside as well, especially since conditions like depression and anxiety are much more common than many people realize. In 2016, 16.1 million adults, or around 6.7 percent of people 18 or over, experienced at least one major depressive episode, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And anxiety, which can often occur alongside depression, affects 6.8 million adults, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Watch the full campaign video below.

The site is split into different sections focusing on various aspects of mental health that can especially affect athletes, like handling life and team transitions, coping with injury, dealing with addictive behaviors, and managing stress and anxiety. There are also individual videos of some rugby players discussing their struggles in more depth.

Here’s Netani Talei, who has played on various rugby teams in the past, discussing dealing with an uncertain future after a devastating injury.

Kane Palma-Newport talks about how pouring yourself into sports can lead to debilitating stress.

Jono Kitto, who plays for the Leicester Tigers, explains how perfectionism started making him miserable.

And here, Nolli Waterman talks about why supporting other people can help ease your own mental health burdens.

To see more videos, check out Lift the Weight’s website.

Rugby Players of America has partnered with the U.K.-based mental-health service Cognacity to provide 24/7 confidential phone counseling to any players who need it. If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, or even just wants to talk through your feelings, there are similar services available in the U.S.

For general mental health information and guidance, contact the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline at 1‑877‑SAMHSA7. If you or a loved one needs help immediately for emotional distress, get in touch with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1‑800‑273‑TALK. The National Alliance on Mental Illness also offers an extensive list of 25 resources that can help you find the kind of support you need.

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Source Article from http://www.self.com/story/lift-the-weight-rugby-mental-health