St Helens and England star Jon Wilkin believes that achieving balance in life is crucial to a Rugby League player’s mental health.
Speaking ahead of his side’s top-of-the-table clash against Challenge Cup winners Leeds Rhinos at Headingley Stadium this evening (8.00pm) in a First Utility Super League round dedicated to State of Mind, Wilkin highlights that obsession can have negative consequences for a person’s state of mind.
The Saints second row advises finding activities away from the game, where a player can balance up their mind again.
“I think in any walk of life, a balance is right,” said Wilkin. “Rugby League is quite an intense lifestyle, it’s a performance-based lifestyle, so that brings its own pressures which are part of the job.
“Being realistic throughout your career is important, having balance and having things to stimulate you away from rugby is crucial.
“At the end of the day, one of the biggest considerations is that everyone having a rugby career is expected to be happy doing it. But there’s a lot of guys who would maybe be happier doing something else. There’s a lot of pressure on those guys just to keep playing.
“When you have other interests, it gives you other options, and it gives you an opportunity to go away and do something else, which is why it’s important.”
Communicating with those who are close to you is also something which players should make every effort to do, according to Wilkin.
“Your openness, and your ability to communicate with your friends and family is your first port of call, with any issue you have,” he said. In my experience, when people, especially rugby players, have an issue, when they struggle, it’s because communication breaks down.
“Away from that, you have your team-mates, as well as the wider game itself. The State of Mind programme is very good at supporting people and players wellbeing.
“In some ways, we’re very privileged to be in that position.”
State of Mind takes over Super League in Round 25 for the games on the weekend of August 28-31. Look out for volunteers providing information on mental health at all grounds across the weekend.
For more information, visit www.stateofmindrugby.com or follow @SOMRugbyLeague on Twitter.