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PRO SPORTSMEN BACK STATE OF MIND

Ambassador to the STATE OF MIND programme Adrian Morley and many others tells us why they’re backing our work…

Adrian Morley

- Of the Warrington Wolves, Leeds Rhinos, Australia’s Sydney Roosters, Bradford Bulls.

“As a former team mate and personal friend of Terry Newton I was shocked and devastated by Terry’s sad and untimely death at such a young age. He was a wonderfully gifted player and the sport of Rugby League is a lesser place for his loss.

“I was, therefore, encouraged when I was briefed on the programme that was being developed to raise awareness of matters of mental fitness and overall wellbeing. I was even more encouraged by the news that this was aimed at the sport of Rugby League at the elite level initially, but ultimately through all levels of Rugby League, professional and amateur, and into local Rugby League communities.

“I have now been asked by the leaders of the ‘STATE OF MIND’ programme to be their Player Ambassador. I am, of course, delighted to accept their offer and join them in this vital work. I will assist in whatever way I can both now and into the future to make the aims and objectives of the programme a reality.

“I call on all Rugby League clubs and communities to support this wonderful work. I also ask Super League clubs to seek and nominate a top player as their club ambassador for ‘STATE OF MIND’.

“Rugby League should celebrate the high regard and love that its fans have for the sport and how it can manifest itself in the dedicated, committed and professional way that those who are leading this give of their time freely and the NHS and Rugby League Community work together to drive the programme forward. I fully support the aims and aspirations of this wonderful programme and all those involved and as such it has my total support and endorsement.”

Andrew Johns

-of Newcastle Knights, Warrington Wolves, NSW and Australia

“For too long mental health has carried a stigma, with the State of Mind round you can raise awareness and help others; If you aren’t feeling ok tell a mate and get some help. I promise you will feel better”

Jon Wilkin

- (St Helens RLFC, England and Great Britain and Chairman of the Super League Players Association – Th13teen)

‘I fully support the aims and objectives of this excellent programme of support for professional players at the elite level. I would also offer my support in assisting the Programme Board in their work to encompass all levels of rugby league, professional and amateur. It is imperative that we give identified staff in our sport training in mental health first aid to equip us with the necessary skills to detect early signs of problems and as a consequence seek appropriate help at the earliest opportunity. Rugby League needs this type of programme now and to continue into the future for sustainable benefit to all players at whatever stage in their career.’

Alan Quinlan

-(Munster and Ireland Rugby Union International)

“I heard about the State of Mind programme in rugby league from my friends in England. I spoke with Ernie Benbow who gave me a briefing on their aims and objectives. I told him that I was in complete support for all STATE OF MIND seeks to achieve and would help in any way I could. The RFL should encourage these people to take this further to help all players. It is an excellent programme.

I understand what they are trying to achieve as I had my problems about which I spoke publicly. People think sportsmen are robots but they are not. Experiencing depression was a shock to me and at first I was unwilling to talk about it. It never occurred to me to open up or tell people about my problems. Thankfully, with the support of all those around me, friends and family I have come through the experience. There’s a perceived problem attached to men asking for a bit of help or even opening up to friends and family members. It’s not the done thing. But if you have a toothache, you go to the dentist. Yet if you’re feeling low down, people tend not to talk about it.”

Paul Merson

– Arsenal, Aston Villa, Portsmouth, Walsall & England Footballer

As a former footballer I am aware of the pressures of professional sporting life and the toll they can take on a person’s mental health. I fully support the State of Mind programme and hope it can raise awareness amongst players, coaches and fans of rugby league and the wider community and help people to think about their and others wellbeing.

David Pitschi

– World Class Snowboarder

“I used to be a snowboarder” this is a sentence I had to stop saying as I am still a snowboarder just not in the limelight anymore, this doesn’t mean whom I am has disappeared. I still wake up wondering if it has snowed somewhere.

“I used to be a snowboarder”, I used to get paid to snowboard and it was the best job in the world, travelling around the globe searching for the best snow, getting coverage and getting published in magazines, getting recognised at airports, being a local in all the airport lounges and having all the fun and none of the worries any “normal” 22 year old person had.

“I used to be a snowboarder” and never though it would end so abruptly, no injuries, no drastic change of plan just my body aging and the youth knocking on the door for my spot. At some stage you need to bow out and leave the sweet spot to the others, if it’s age, the loss of to many friends or injury the lime light will shine away and this is when the real challenge started for me.

“I used to be a snowboarder” and it was easy, it was what I did, it came naturally, all I had to do was strap in and my instinct (talent) would do the rest. It was effortless and I couldn’t understand why no one else was doing the same. The real challenge in my life was when I had to stop doing what came naturally. I needed to learn everything and adapt to a normal lifestyle. Nothing prepares you for such a drastic change and in any sport that change will come sooner or later it’s as certain as taxes. The day it happens, no matter what you’ve stashed away, how well you’ve prepared for it the feeling of it being over is hard to stomach.

“I used to be a snowboard” you start joking about it, talking about the good ol’ days and how it was your choice and that if you wanted you could still be in the game. but inevitably the focus draws away from you and slowly your name doesn’t show up in magazines, you have to have a 9 to 5 job, all the crew you used to travel and ride with don’t call anymore and when the season arrives you fell left on the bench and see all your mates still living your old life. This is where the challenge started for me, I thought it was going to be easy, nothing would really change but in fact your whole world changes and it takes a lot of control and determination to pull through. I was lucky enough to get a job in the industry and keep in touch with the people I used to work with. But going from being self employed to working for a company with all their rules and going from a good pay to a tenth of the pay gives you a big sense or regression and you feel like you’ve been put in a closet and left there to forget. I felt my life was over and all I had to do is maintain myself alive until the time came where my body would collapse and I was encouraging it to collapse as much as I could, I would find solace in alcohol, lots of alcohol and food. It all came slowly too, you don’t notice it creeps upon you first you get drunk every week and then you get drunk 3-4 times a week, at the end of one year of being out of the game I had gained 15kg and was pretty much drunk 5 days out of 7. It took a drastic event to make me snap out of this downward spiral.

One morning I received an e-mail:
Sept 3rd 2005“He used to be a talented snowboarder”
I am sorry to announce the death of Franck Screm, he was a talented snowboarder, and he has made an indelible mark on snowboarding in the early 90 with his small stance and unique style. Our love goes to his family and friends.

Franck and I where fellow riders, he was a little younger than me and had stopped being a professional rider after the 2004 season, the sponsors had dropped him and he was struggling in his personal life. He couldn’t face his love life leaving him, all those who praised him forgetting him. Franck use a way more drastic way to solace, he ended his life with a bullet. And left us all wondering where we had gone wrong. Such a talented kid with such a good heart. Life as he saw it had become obsolete and he couldn’t see anything positive in the future and no one was there when he needed someone, no one knew, we all though it was easy…

“I am a snowboarder” and will always be, this event as horrific as it was pulled me out of my depression, I was heading exactly there in a slower way but as certainly as Franck. I managed to find a way to get out of it by speaking about it to my friends and family, it’s a slow road and it tends to still creep up on you some days but knowing that there are friends around that can listen to you again and again helps. I’ve been working 9 to 5 for 8 years now and I’ve been a snowboarder for 20 years, I never stopped being a snowboarder. Life doesn’t stop at the end of one’s career, life changes and so do careers, we are fortunate to be part of the lucky few that get to experience this.

Greville Mitchell OBE KSS

- Chairman of the World Professional Surfers WPS.

Greville Mitchell said in support of State of Mind: ‘Broken minds – the same as broken bones; one can be seen – the other cannot. However both can be mended – it’s good to talk.’

Joel Parkinson

- World’s number 1 surfer

Joel Parkinson in supporting State of Mind has said “If your mate is suffering from a mental illness he may not tell you, but you might pick up something’s not right. Just ask him how he’s going, let him know you’re there if he wants to talk. It’s what good mates do. The smallest gesture can make the biggest difference.”

Andy Griffin

– Reading Football Club

Andy said, “Mental health is something we cannot afford to ignore. Things sometimes look OK from the outside, but inside there’s often lots to deal with. Just because someone is a sportsman or has good jobs, it doesn’t mean they’re immune to depression, it just needs to be brought to the forefront because it can have tragic circumstances, particularly with my friend Terry.”

Roy Keane

– Manchester United, Celtic & Ireland

Roy Keane said in support of State of Mind:  “I am fully supportive of the State of Mind campaign. Mental health issues need to be addressed and doing it through sport should raise the profile of this worthy cause.”

Doug Howlett

– Auckland, Munster, Hurricanes, Highlanders and All Black Wing

Doug Howlett said “We’re all human and sometimes things don’t always go our way. Don’t be afraid to talk to a mate when times are tough. With time you will feel better especially if you reach out for help. I support the State of Mind campaign”

James Wade

- World Ranked no.3 Darts Player

Said in support of State of Mind “I think the State of Mind campaign is hugely important. Mental Health issues need to be addressed so talk to someone if you’re not feeling right, it took me years to find the courage but it has been the best thing I have ever done for myself & my family“

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