Sutherland backs new mental wellbeing course

Sutherland backs new mental wellbeing course

Having faced his own struggles with depression and anxiety as a result of injury, Scotland International Rory Sutherland today lends his support to Scottish Rugby at the launch of a new mental wellbeing e-learning course, designed to support players and coaches within the sport.

Through a series of modules, questions and case studies, the course will equip participants with the tools and techniques they need to effectively support those in the rugby community, and kick misconceptions surrounding mental wellbeing into touch.

The free course concludes by sign-posting users to a range of support lines and other mental wellbeing organisations, including Breathing Space, who launched their partnership with Scottish Rugby in October 2019.

With 14 International caps to his name, Sutherland describes the new course as “a huge stepping stone” in bringing mental wellbeing to the forefront of discussion.

“I think it’s extremely important that everyone learns about mental wellbeing. For a lot of people, there is maybe that perception that rugby players are big tough guys with no problems, but everyone has their issues. And for a lot of people, they maybe don’t know how identify their feelings as being related to their mental wellbeing, how to deal with those feelings, or who to turn to.

“I think this course will lay a great foundation for young players and others in the rugby community to learn how to do all that.” Rory Sutherland

Sutherland’s own experiences were borne out of a groin injury he sustained in 2016, which put a pause to the start of his International career.

“When I was out from injury, I didn’t understand that the feelings I was experiencing when I woke up every day were depression and anxiety. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with Ben Atiga [Scottish Rugby’s Player Liaison Officer] that I was able to understand what was going on. Being able to speak to someone like Benny, who had knowledge on wellbeing really helped me process my feelings and I was able to start setting myself goals to come back from that difficult time.

“The fact young players can now take Scottish Rugby’s course, it will definitely help them to make sense of any negative feelings they have and help people talk to others within their rugby circles more comfortably.

“I can say first-hand that ‘it is okay not to be okay, don’t be afraid of your feelings’. Wellbeing is of the utmost importance because if you feel good, you’ll perform well in the other aspects of your life.”

Scottish Rugby designed the course in collaboration with health professionals including Chief Medical Officer Dr James Robson, Dr Katy Stewart from the Hampden Sports Clinic, although with guidance from the Scottish FA, who recently created a similar resource for coaches.

The course is also supported by G4S, Official Stewarding Partner to Scottish Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors. G4S firmly believe that sport can play a powerful role in being the catalyst to improving the quality of life for young people in communities across Scotland.

Scottish Rugby’s Head of Training and Education, Neil Graham said: “The subject of mental health and wellbeing has become more dominant in the mainstream media in recent years, even more so as a result of the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.

“Although the course is not about training participants to be a counsellor or therapist, we believe that it will support the development and understanding of what we mean by ‘mental health’, and what they can do to create a supportive environment for their team-mate or coach experiencing problems with their mental wellbeing.

“I hope that everyone who takes the course finds it useful and gains newfound confidence on discussing and providing support in a challenging area.” Neil Graham.

In July 2020, Scottish Rugby launched their first online learning course centring around the safe return to rugby in line with the Scottish Government guidelines. Since then, over 10,500 coaches, players, volunteers and parents completed the course, and it is expected the new mental wellbeing course will have a similar uptake.

Taking roughly 30 minutes to complete, the mental wellbeing e-learning course is accessible on all internet enabled devices, including smart phones and tablets, and can be found HERE.

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