Experienced Widnes back-rower Chris Houston has taken a hands on role with rugby league’s approach to mental health in recent months.
Houston is an ambassador for the new Offload programme, currently in operation at Widnes and also Warrington and Salford.
The 10-week pilot enables fans young and old to turn up and talk about rugby league, engaging with health professionals and current and former professional players to learn the skills and techniques to build a strong mindset.
Mental health takes centre stage this weekend for the annual State of Mind Super League round. This year’s round looks at the pressures of loss – be it a relationship, a job, income, a home or a bereavement, and how people can deal with it.
Houston said: “Anything to do with mental health I take an interest in. I have spoken to the guys behind it and it’s promoting the saying “it ain’t weak to speak”.
“There are a lot of people that struggle with mental health problems that know how to get out of it and there are a lot that don’t.
“I think it’s about giving people the tools to find out what works best for them so when they feel down they can pick themselves back up.
“I think we are probably lucky in rugby league compared with other every day life, we’ve got great support networks.
“We have welfare support officers at each club as well as obviously your coach and team-mates to talk to.”
This year’s themed round takes place on the weekend of Round 18, June 8th to 11th, and the following games: Leigh v Wigan (Thu), St Helens v Widnes (Fri), Salford v Hull (Fri), Wakefield v Leeds (Sat), Catalans v Huddersfield (Sat), Castleford v Warrington (Sun)