Head for Change and Beyond The White Line have announced a unique partnership that will see the two organisations combining to deliver mental health support to current and former athletes.
The partnership, which will serve a variety of sports, will kick-off with a focus on Head for Change’s rugby talent, as a result of the increase in brain injury diagnoses following a professional career of playing the game.
Head for Change is a new charity, which offers care and support to affected players and their families, and seeks to make football and rugby safer for participants by encouraging all stakeholders to take a player-centred approach to the sports.
Beyond The White Line is a not-for-profit organisation created to tackle the challenges athletes and stakeholders face throughout and beyond their professional careers.
This partnership will see all athletes having unique access to the only NHS-approved mental health app that is focused on the prevention and early detection of common mental health conditions, fully funded by Beyond The White Line, powered by Thrive.
Currently available to over 3.5 million users globally, the app gives access to external support services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as well as the option to speak to a clinically led therapist within seconds via a text-based chat service.
The app also carries personalised content for each player and staff member, including the ability to carry over 100 hours of content to help keep its users well and tackle any common stressors such as sleep or health issues.
Head for Change ambassador James Haskell says; “It’s been really hard to see players I’ve played with, and players I’ve played against, coming to terms with their brain injuries. Of course, you think, ‘that could be me’.
And it still could. That’s why I’m so pleased to see Head for Change doing something to help the guys in what for many of them will be the toughest period of their lives.”
Alix Popham, one of Head for Change’s founders added; “We know from our work with rugby players who are receiving brain injury diagnoses as a result of their professional rugby career, that adjusting to the implications of their diagnosis can be very challenging.
For many players with young families and post-rugby careers to think about, dealing with CTE or early-onset dementia was not something they anticipated having to cope with when they hung up their boots.
“As a result of our partnership with Beyond the White Line, we are able to offer players access to a mental health app which has a range of tools and techniques which we believe will be of real value to them.
In addition to the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy programme and the mindfulness and meditation exercises, users will also have access to Live Coaching.
We believe that having someone to talk to about what the players and former players are going through will be a big help to some of the people we aim to support.”
The app, as part of the partnership with Beyond The White Line marks an important element of the care and support package Head for Change is developing for rugby players with a brain injury diagnosis.
Head for Change has found that players have a desire to feel part of a community and value the opportunity to spend time with others in a similar situation to them.
As a result, the app, which will be offered to players and former players free of charge, will help them manage their mental wellbeing more effectively.
Alongside this, we will put in place virtual and in-person events to develop a sense of community with those who would value this additional support, under our Better Together programme, managed by Head for Change with specialist support from Beyond The White Line.
James Chiffi, founder of Beyond The White Line added; “We’re really pleased to be working with Head for Change on this important project.
The rugby world has only recently become aware of the extent of the issues around brain injury and so there hasn’t been very much support for players coming forward with symptoms, until now.”
More information about Head For Change can be found at: www.headforchange.org.uk