Monday 23 September 2019

'There's nothing wrong with speaking up if you're struggling' - Irish rugby legend Shane Byrne encourages men to talk about mental health

Shane Byrne
Shane Byrne

Aoife Walsh

Former Irish rugby player Shane Byrne has joined a host of international rugby stars in encouraging men to open-up about their mental health as part of World Suicide Prevention Day.

Movember Ireland has teamed up with some of rugby’s biggest global players, including Shane Byrne, George North (Wales), Dylan Hartley (England), James Horwill (Australia) and Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand), to tackle tough topics with the #ManOfMoreWords campagin.

The rugby professionals are advising men to use the half-time break in each game of the Rugby World Cup as an opportunity to talk to a friend.

Shane Byrne, who appeared 41 times for Ireland and played in four tests for the British and Irish Lions during their 2005 tour of New Zealand, said: “Rugby teaches you how to deal with problems on the pitch and overcome them as a team.

“But for some reason, blokes aren’t as comfortable asking for help off the pitch. Guys need to understand there’s nothing wrong with speaking up if they’re struggling with something – your mates will listen when you need them.

“You wouldn’t try to solve a problem alone during a game, so it doesn’t make sense that blokes think they have to do that in the real world.

“We need being a man of more words to become the norm in order to tackle the rising male suicide rate," he added.

The campaign aims to show that even men in the world of professional contact sports who are perceived to be strong,and able to handle anything can struggle with their mental health.

It highlights that during the Rugby World Cup in Japan, the top sides in the world will battle it out in 48 gruelling test matches. During that match-time, around the world 3,840 men will be lost to suicide.

Director of Movember Ireland Jack O’Connor said: “The increasing number of men who take their own lives both around the world and here in Ireland is alarming. We’re working toward a world where men and boys look after their mental health and are comfortable reaching out to others for support when they’re struggling.”

Online Editors

The Left Wing - RWC daily: Bullet trains as Ireland spread wings

Also in Sport