Mental health counselling for rugby players

A mental health counselling programme has been put in place by the Irish Rugby Union Players Association (IRUPA) to help sportsmen who may be suffering from issues such as depression.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, individuals have already made "significant use" of the service since it was launched in February of this year.

The spotlight has fallen on depression in sport recently with the English Professional Footballers' Association increasing the circulation of their 36-page booklet on handling depression from its 4,000 members to more than 50,000 ex-professionals after the sudden death of Wales manager and former Leeds United and Newcastle United midfielder Gary Speed last week.

IRUPA Player Services Adviser Hamish Adams stated that the assistance programme helpline run by counsellors offers a confidential service that anybody can use if they are battling such an illness.

He added that professional sport has many highs and lows - and there are few other industries that can compare.

Dr Adam Nicholls, Chartered Psychologist from the University of Hull, noted that the psychological wellbeing of sportspeople such as rugby players is often ignored, as there is a shortage of professionals working for organisations such as rugby clubs who have an understanding of these conditions.

"The programme set up by the IRUPA is something that is very much needed in all professional sport, because it provides players with an organisation to speak to qualified individuals regarding any concerns that they have," he said.