Llandaff North RFC and Mental Health

My name is Kira Philpott and I’ve been playing rugby at Llandaff North RFC for 4 years. The girls at the club have been monumental in my rugby journey and allow me to feel part of a strong family unit and support me both on and off the field. At North we are all genuinely good friends, which is why we all look out for one another and will go the extra mile for each other.

It is no secret that the number of people suffering with poor mental health is rising. News stories of people dying from suicide is at an all time high and shows no sign of slowing down. I can’t help but feel a responsibility to do my part in ensuring that we, as a team are aware of the conditions, symptoms and commonality of mental health problems. If I can somehow lessen the stigma of talking about your mental health and seeking help when needed in our team then I will feel like we are moving in the right direction.

Just like physical health, we all have mental health and it is so important that we look after it as much as we can. At the rugby club we have physiotherapists and first aiders that will cater to all our complex needs to maintain our physical health and let me tell you none of the girls are afraid to go see the physio when they have a little niggle, bit of an ache or a bruise!

So where do we go if we want to seek help with our mental health? Whether that’s having a chat about a crap day in work, needing a good rant or cry and even wanting information on Mental Health services available to us.

Well, that would be me!

From having first hand experience of the positive effects a “go to person” can have on a team from Heather Lewis; Cardiff Blues Ladies Chaplain. Her work has inspired me to put my hand up as the Wellbeing lead for Llandaff North. Now, I’m no professional and for some girls I might not even be the person they want to speak to, which is fine. But if just one person needs a shoulder to cry on or signposting to further services I’m your girl. Although, I’m not completely clueless, I have been qualified in ‘Mental health first aid for young people’ which does give me some knowledge on how to help people at crisis point and who that person needs to be referred to. As it’s not my job to diagnose people, ‘cure’ people or deal with mental health problems that are too complex for my rather limited knowledge and experience.

Small but powerful steps that we took at North included marking “World Mental Health Day- October 10th”. After training the girls came back to the club house for some Food and well earned sweet treats and cakes in favour for a small donation for the ‘Mental Health Foundation’. The girls really bought into this evening and even competed in teams to answer a Mental Health quiz, they’re a competitive bunch! This gave the team a chance to have a chat, catch up and de-stress. With the topic of Mental Health being on the table, conversations soon started to flow and people we’re able to get things off their chest if they chose to. Moving forward, post Christmas the team will get together for a fundraising challenge to raise even more money for the Mental Health Foundation, as its close to all our hearts and some of the girls having an input to the content in their “how to look after your mental health and wellbeing as an elite athlete in rugby” publication.

I can’t stop people from experiencing poor mental health, let’s face it 1 in every 4 people will have to deal with a mental health problem at some point in their life. But what I can do is help lessen the stigma they face when they do go through it. It’s not a grand gesture and it’s not about doing it for the credit or to tick a box. I am doing it because I want the best for the girls in my team and I know they all feel the same way about me too! So check on your friends and lets make talking about our mental health just as easy as saying “duur my hamstrings are tight today”.