The UK’s Telegraph newspaper reports that the true scale of rugby union’s mental health crisis can be exposed, as shocking new figures reveal that 62% of retired players have suffered problems since leaving the professional game.
The statistics, compiled by the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA), have been described as “a major issue” by the head of the international players’ body, while a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) has written to the government demanding it does more to help retired professionals.
The RPA has called on others in the sport to increase their backing for former players after its survey revealed the majority of retired professionals had struggled since leaving the game.
The key findings from its research, which was based on approximately 200 retired players, 46% of whom were internationals and 77% of whom either played 100 club matches or were internationals, included:
- • 62% had experienced some sort of mental health issue
- • 52% did not feel in control of their lives two years after they retired
- • Almost 50% had financial difficulty in the first five years
- • 46% were unhappy with their preparation for life after sport
Financial concerns were found to be the biggest contributing factor to mental health difficulties – which Telegraph Sport understands were classified as ranging from panic attacks to suicidal thoughts. Former players were around three times more likely than a member of the public to suffer illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
The findings were greeted with dismay by Omar Hassanein, chief executive of International Rugby Players.
“That 62% figure is very alarming,” he said. “That is almost two in three players suffering mental health issues. If that is not a major issue that requires focus then I do not know what is.
“There is no point in looking at that figure and simply saying it is alarming. As the game grows, and the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France is going to be the most lucrative [World Cup in history], no doubt, then the game needs to find a way to look after the personal side of the athletes, otherwise it is only going to get worse.”
Mental health issues have been a growing concern for rugby union. A number of high-profile former players have revealed their struggles both while they played and since leaving the sport.
------------- // -------------- // --------------
There are a number of avenues open to people who may be struggling with mental health and / or substance abuse issues.
In Hong Kong they include:
In Hong Kong, The Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong (www.sbhk.org.hk) can be contacted on (852) 2389 2222 (24-hour Hotline) or via email [email protected]
(Attn: The Samaritans); or by their web engagement service http://www.help4suicide.com.hk/
In Hong Kong, Samaritans (https://samaritans.org.hk/
) can be contacted on (852) 2896 0000
In Hong Kong, Alcoholics Anonymous (http://www.aa-hk.org/
) can be contacted at (852) 9073 6922 or via email at [email protected]
In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email [email protected]
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14.
Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org
-------------- // -------------- // --------------