Saturday 24 February 2018

Nigel Owens says talking about mental health is not a red card offence

The referee is speaking out as part of a mental health awareness week campaign.

By Taylor Heyman

Referee Nigel Owens has appeared in a video to aid discussion about mental health in the workplace.

The Not A Red Card campaign video was created by Legal & General as part of mental health awareness week this week, and in it we get to hear some of the famous rugby referee’s signature lines.

“This is not soccer,” he tells a manager and employee as they both ignore the signs the employee is struggling.

The campaign is designed to encourage conversations about mental health between employers and employees, after research from the financial services company revealed worrying statistics.

It found almost four in five (78%) employers believe their employees are comfortable discussing such problems at work.

However, in stark contrast, only 4% of employees who’ve experienced depression and 5% who’ve experienced anxiety feel able to talk to their manager or superior about it.

Owens recently spoke about his own struggles with mental health and his sexuality, including bulimia and an attempted suicide, during an appearance on Desert Island Disks.


Speaking about why he is supporting the campaign, Owens said: “It’s important for me that people don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed if they experience a mental health issue.

“It’s not a sign of weakness, in fact accepting it and talking about it is a sign of great strength.”

Owens isn’t the only sporting personality involved in the campaign. Future videos will include Team GB gold medal-winning hockey players Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh, and former Premier League footballer Clarke Carlisle.

Press Association

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