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Posted on Nov 28 2022 by Fiona Bailey

“Men must do better” when it comes to managing their mental health, which is why Northampton Saints have teamed up with the town’s largest mental health charity St Andrew’s Healthcare to raise awareness.

To mark Movember, an event which has become synonymous with men growing moustaches in November to educate gents about various health issues, Saints offered to train on the charity’s Billing Road site.

There, staff and patients were encouraged to come down and watch the team get ready for their next match. Afterwards they got to meet their sporting heroes and have pictures taken with the professional sports stars.

Prop Ethan Waller, who has been growing a moustache to support the Movember campaign, said: “It was a real privilege to come and train at St Andrew’s Healthcare and meet the patients afterwards. There is still such a stigma attached to mental health – particularly among males and, frankly, men must do better when it comes to talking.

“The more open and honest we are about our feelings, the easier it can be to seek the right support and treatment. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.”

Director of Rugby, Phil Dowson, added: “It’s been great training on a different site – it’s particularly important for us to connect with the local community, and St Andrew’s Healthcare is a huge part of this. They do some incredible work with their patients, and they’re working hard to remove any stigma or taboo that is commonly associated with mental health. It’s really important that we raise awareness and encourage men to be more open about mental health conditions and other health complaints.”

Mental health is taken incredibly seriously by Saints’ support team, with the club employing a sports psychologist and chaplain for players to talk to when they feel they need the extra support.

Stuart, who is a patient at St Andrew’s Healthcare, came down to watch the players train and got to meet them all afterwards. He said: “I’m from South Africa where rugby is a big deal, so I was hugely excited to come down and watch the team train. It’s been the highlight of my year to meet them all.

“I’m really pleased that Saints are helping to raise awareness of mental health because it’s not something people should be embarrassed about.”

Tom Bodkin, Sports and Exercise Therapist at St Andrew’s Healthcare, who was instrumental in inviting Saints onto site, said: “What an honour it was to watch the team train and it was a real highlight for our patients, many of whom are huge fans of the sport. It’s not every day that professional sports stars are training right in front of you and I would like to thank Saints for accepting our invitation and helping to inspire our patients into getting active.

“Many of us know that exercise can play a huge part in improving our mental health, but it’s sometimes extremely hard to start, but seeing the boys on the pitch has really resonated with some, who have already asked me about whether they could start some rugby sessions.

“We’re also enormously grateful that this training session is helping to shine the light on mental health among men. As a society, we’ve come a long way in educating people about mental health conditions, but in terms of men openly talking about their feelings and perhaps asking for help, I think we still have some way to go. But, I think working closely with such a top flight team such as Northampton Saints will do wonders for raising the profile of poor mental health and telling men that it’s ok to not be ok.”