Wales Rugby League




10th October 2016, 15:55


Wales Rugby League are proud to announce on World Mental Health Day that they are supporting and bringing awareness to men’s mental health during this senior international programme by having special messages displayed on the playing jersey

Wales Rugby League are proud to announce on World Mental Health Day that they are supporting and bringing awareness to men’s mental health during this senior international programme by having special messages displayed on the playing jersey.


WRL have dedicated space on the Wales international jersey for their forthcoming games against Serbia, Jamaica and Italy which take place over the next three weekends. The first game is this Saturday against Serbia at Stebonheath Park, Llanelli, with a 3pm kick-off.


#Itsoktotalk and #ANDYSMANCLUB will appear on either arm of the Welsh shirt and will receive additional coverage as the Serbia game is screened live on S4C. 


Wales Rugby League CEO Chris Thair said" “Men’s mental health is a growing issue and a number of us involved in the organisation have known people who have sadly been affected.


"I recently attended the funeral of Ste Gartland, an ex-teammate of mine who sadly passed away too soon at the age of 45.


"Stephen was a leader, confident, true family man and had everything you would ever need in life. However, he sadly suffered from depression in recent times, before deciding to take his own life this year.


"If it happened to Ste Gartland, then it could happen to anyone. You, me, anyone and this is sadly shown through other ex-high profile sports stars who have taken their own life, such as Great Britain rugby league player Terry Newton and ex-Wales football manager Gary Speed.


"I urge anyone who is suffering inside to seek help. The NHS and other experts state the best starting point for people who are feeling suicidal is getting them to talk about their feelings and thoughts.


"Having #Itsokaytotalk” on the iconic Welsh rugby jersey is there to remind everyone. The other logo #AndysManClub is there to profile Andy’s Man Club, which was founded by professional rugby league player Luke Ambler following his brother in law Andy Roberts committing suicide earlier this year without any warning signs or signals."


Shaun Gartland, brother of Stephen, said: " I applaud the awareness and recognition of this illness, which affects many young people and ex-sports people, especially in our sport of rugby league.


"I recently spoke to Richard Agar, who had a theory that, after spending most of your life getting emotionally up for game day, it is very hard to find something to replace that high once you are no longer involved.


"Whether true or not, it is a theory that every ex-player could understand and I thank Wales Rugby League for helping to raise awareness of this issue."


Luke Ambler said: “Andy’s Man Club is somewhere for men to get together and talk with other like minded people. They don’t just sit and talk. We do physical activities, discuss coping strategies and talk about coping strategies, debt management and even father’s access to their children”.


After taking to social media, this is a campaign that has grown and grown and many will have seen men posting a selfie of themselves doing an ok sign with their hands with the hashtag #itsgoodtotalk. This is a campaign that has gone across sports and global. I would like to place on record my thanks to Craig Poskitt, commercial director of Wales RL, for giving us the great exposure."

Craig Poskitt added: "We are absolutely delighted to offer Luke and his team the exposure on the Wales RL national shirt; what Andy's Man Club has achieved in this short space of time is phenomenal and we hope we can help to continue this work by offering this opportunity." 


The 2016 Samaritan's Suicide Statistics Report shows men in Wales are over four times more likely to commit suicide compared to women. The most likely men to commit suicide are aged between 45 and 49 and suicide remains the leading cause of death in England and Wales for men aged between 20 and 34 years of age. 


Whilst there was a large dip in suicide rates in Wales in 2014, the authorities say it is too soon to say whether it was the start of a downward trend or simply a large annual fluctuation.


Just three years ago in Wales, the suicide rates were at the highest level since 1981 and this shows there is still much to do on this important issue. 


The International Association for Suicide Prevention said: “Suicide is complex. It usually occurs gradually, progressing from suicidal thoughts, to planning, to attempting suicide and finally dying by suicide”.


There were 6581 suicides in the UK in 2014 which amounts to over 18 a day. The Samaritans’ vision is that fewer people die by suicide and we hope Wales Rugby League by bringing extra awareness to this important issue of men’s mental health, we can assist the Samaritans towards that vision. 


Remember: depression is a treatable mental disorder so seek help and reach out. Helpline and Support GroupsSamaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you're feeling, or if you're worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won't show up on your phone bill.PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn't have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is an excellent resource for young men who are feeling unhappy. As well as their website, CALM also has a helpline 0800 58 58 58.