Earlier this month, the Rugby Players Association (RPA), held a two-day Mental Health First Aid Training Course (MHFA), hosted by Gallagher Premiership Club Exeter Chiefs.
Eight players and eight members of staff attended the session over the two days, delivered by Mental Health First Aid instructor Ben Morris. The aim of delivering the licensed and accredited course was to raise mental health awareness, reduce stigma around mental health and enhance a positive support culture in the club.
The course covered topics ranging from what is mental health, depression, suicide, and a clear action plan for mental health first aid. It encompassed four main sections:
- The concept and impact of Mental Health and Depression.
- Suicide and substance misuse.
- Anxiety disorders; self-harm; eating disorders and personality disorders.
- Psychosis and building a mentally healthy community.
The course was hosted by the RPA, with the candidates a mix of current RPA members, senior coaching staff, and academy staff.
Whilst the RPA already runs various initiatives in the Mental Health space including member access to 24/7 confidential counselling, the ‘Lift the Weight’ campaign, one to one access to Development Managers and regular wellbeing webinars; embedding this dedicated First Aid training into each club through a mix of players and staff will provide greater informed understanding and encouragement to talk more freely about mental health and supporting others.
Exeter Chiefs are the seventh Premiership club to have taken part in the two-day course following successful courses at Bath, Bristol, Gloucester, London Irish, Sale and Saracens.
Harvey Skinner, Exeter Chiefs’ RPA Player Rep said: “The mental first aid course has allowed me to understand and read situations a lot better. I’m now more aware of my surroundings and would feel comfortable assisting anyone who would need some support.”
Ali Hepher, Exeter Chiefs Head Coach, said: “It is so important to look after the mental health of our players. The Mental Health First Aid course has helped me become much more aware of poor mental health and given me the correct skills to help anyone get the right support.”