Hartlepool rugby ref helps to tackle stigma of men’s mental health

Phil Jukes (centre) with "State of Mind" event sponsors (left to right) Lee Dees (MKM building supplies), Malcolm Pattison (Hart Biologicals), Kevin Bryne (Seymour civil engineering) and Ian Wilson (ORD office ltd).
Phil Jukes (centre) with "State of Mind" event sponsors (left to right) Lee Dees (MKM building supplies), Malcolm Pattison (Hart Biologicals), Kevin Bryne (Seymour civil engineering) and Ian Wilson (ORD office ltd).

A rugby referee is organising an event in Hartlepool to promote better mental health among blokes.

Phil Jukes is holding a night in connection with the charity State of Mind to help men, including sports players, open up about a subject they may feel is taboo.

Prince Harry with fiancee Meghan Markle.  Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Prince Harry with fiancee Meghan Markle. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

It is being held in the clubhouse of West Hartlepool Rugby Club on Wednesday, March 21.

Guest speakers are set to include ex Super League referee Ian Smith and Dr Phil Cooper, a co-founder of State of Mind.

Phil said: “It is a big stigma with males, they don’t like holding their hands up to talk about things like this.

“It is something very close to my heart because I suffer from depression.

“I played rugby and had to stop through injury.

“The night is just about getting the message across to predominantly men to say it’s ok for them to hold their hands up and say ‘I’m not ok’.

“I have gone out to rugby clubs, referees’ society, schools, colleges and businesses.

“I want people to turn up and hopefully fill the place.”

Phil held a similar event, also at West Hartlepool Rugby Club, in 2015.

It was attended by former Super League and England rugby player Danny Sculthorpe.

Phil added: “People get a lot out of it including how to spot the signs that something may be wrong.”

The State of Mind programme was established in 2011 with the aim of improving the mental health, wellbeing and working life of rugby league players and communities.

The charity said: “We want to get people talking about it. Our team of mental health and sport professionals deliver comprehensive education sessions throughout the UK in super league, championship and amateur clubs as well as colleges and community groups, aimed at raising awareness of mental health issues within sport.”

Young royals Princes William and Harry, and the Duchess of Cambridge, have helped to raise the profile of mental health recently.

Last year, they launched the Heads Together Foundation to raise awareness of the issue in young people, the emergency services, homeless charities, and forces veterans.

The State of Mind Health event starts at 7pm and is free. Both men and women are welcome to attend.

It is being sponsored by MKM Building Supplies, Publicity Seekers, Orange Box Training Solutions, Hart Biologicals and Ord Office supplies.