Cricket campaign on mental health issues

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Cricket. Pic © Geograph.org.uk / Wikimedia Commons

Cricket. Pic © Geograph.org.uk / Wikimedia Commons

A campaign to encourage men to talk about mental health issues has been launched across Merseyside cricket clubs.

The Opening Up charity aims to promote mental well-being and suicide prevention in cricket, after 23-year-old Sefton Park player Alex Miller took his own life in 2012.

Seven cricket clubs have already signed up to the sessions, which offer cricket-focused aerobic drills, led by personal trainers, combined with practical exercises and discussion.

Opening Up co-ordinator Mark Boyns told JMU Journalism: “We saw a gap within the sport for mental well-being which we wanted to address as there is so many positive elements to cricket that can be utilised to benefit the health of players.

“We thought the best way to deliver such a message was to visit clubs, providing them with physical and mental fitness sessions to highlight the link between the two.”

Men are known to be less open to talk about mental health issues than women, but Boyns said that sport is an ideal way to encourage them to open up.

He continued: “I think the key is to take the message to men in settings they are comfortable in.

“Men not talking about their feelings is such a block to improving mental health and the shocking statistic that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 means that targeting cricket, where supportive structures already exist, is vital.”

The campaign has so far been successful, with feedback “overwhelmingly positive” according to Boyns, who plans to continue to help as many men open up as he can.

He added: “We just want to get the message out to as many different men that being silent isn’t being strong and to allow them to know where to seek help if they need it.”

About Josie Timms, JMU Journalism