Health Tips ​Powerful new campaign encourages athletes to open up about mental illness

Mental health issues can affect anyone but the stigma surrounding it means that it’s often hard for people to reach out for help.

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​These #LiftTheWeights athletes anxiety and depression sufferers to know you're not alone

Mental health issues can affect anyone -- even the people you might not expect -- but the stigma surrounding it means that it’s often hard for people to reach out for help.

#LiftTheWeights, a new British campaign from the Rugby Players Association, is hoping to change that by encouraging pro-rugby players to open up about how they sought help for their mental health struggles -- and encourage others to do the same.

The campaign features videos of former and current rugby players talking about their experiences with depression, anxiety, suicidal feelings, and loneliness.

For example, New Zealand’s Jono Kitto, who plays for Leicester Tigers, shares his story about tackling depression and how each day was a constant struggle to “fight his own head.”

When he started feeling suicidal, he realized he had to get help, so he reached out to his parents. As soon as he did, he says, “a little bit of a weight was lifted off my shoulders….now I could walk through it with other people.

It wasn’t just my own battle, it was a battle others could support me with and walk through it with me.”

In another video, British rugby player James Haskell describes dealing with debilitating feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem since the age of 19.

What finally helped was seeing a sports psychologist. “She helped me believe in myself,” he says.

The whole campaign is worth a watch and it’s a powerful reminder that if you're struggling with anxiety or depression, you don't have to do it alone. It's always okay to ask for help if you need it.

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