Injured Harlequins’ second-row Sam Twomey has spoken out about the importance of mental health awareness.
Twomey has spent a year out with a foot injury, and despite assumptions about sports teams, he explains that, at least in rugby, there is no stigma around being open with emotions.
After a scan on a potential setback to his injury, his team-mates took it upon themselves to lift him up.
Speaking of his personal experience, Twomey said: “It was one of those things where I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.
“I was walking out to the car and one of the other lads came out and put his arm round me, and I broke down.
“It really helped, and it goes without saying that that is what is going to happen now.”
In a sport where there is always someone ready to take your place, long-term injury is not something any sportsperson can live with easily, and it can drastically affect mental state and future career options.
Professional sportsmen are role models in so many senses, and Twomey and his teammates are role models of what the archetypal 21st century male should be; open, tolerant and caring.
Twomey believes the idea that sports teams lack awareness on such issues only propagates an archaic stigma that leaves the afflicted feeling like they shouldn’t seek help.
He said: “If the guys around you see that you are down, they will provide you support without you needing to ask.
“In my 8 years at the club, there has always been an ethos that if someone needs help then you give them help and you are there for them.”
As part of World Mental Health Day on Tuesday, Twomey and team-mate Luke Wallace joined up with the Harlequins Foundation to help deliver a session of the Foundation’s METTLE program at Bishop Perrin CofE Primary School.
The initiative was set-up as a part of Harlequins’ participation in the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation, and aims to promote mental health awareness in their community and equip young people with the skills to deal with such issues.
It does so through the use of diverse role models such as coaches and players, like Twomey, presenting and participating in physical and educational workshops delivered to children aged 10-11 around the Twickenham area.