3 middle aged men standing in a rugby pitch looking at camera
Movember funding to scale up mental fitness in construction industryImage by: Offload
3 middle aged men standing in a rugby pitch looking at camera
27 July 2023

Movember funding to scale up mental fitness in construction industry

3 minutes read time

Heads up: Movember’s new mental boost

Hundreds of construction workers across the north of England are set to receive mental fitness and wellbeing training, thanks to Movember funding.

How rugby’s stepping up for mental wellness

The charity Rugby League Cares (RLC) has been running its hugely-successful mental health and wellbeing initiative, Offload, over the last five years in communities where rugby league is played.

Offload’s magic touch & who’s feeling it

Offload is an evidence-based programme that harnesses the power of sport to tackle common mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression, and has made a positive difference to the lives of thousands of men and women. Many of the towns and cities in rugby league’s heartland areas across Northern England suffer disproportionately high levels of poor mental wellbeing through causes such as low income, employment insecurity, unemployment, and low educational achievement.

Offload utilises the lived experience of rugby league players to equip participants with the tools and techniques needed to address low level mental health problems including social isolation, low self-esteem, and conditions such as depression and anxiety, whilst also helping to prevent the development of complex mental illness and suicide.

Diving into the ‘fixtures’: Not your usual sessions

Offload sessions, referred to as ‘fixtures’, are delivered by current and former rugby league players in a range of settings, including sports stadiums, workplaces and community venues. The fixtures focus on building and maintaining mental fitness, coping, and managing setbacks, stress, anger and emotion management, mindfulness, building resilience, and maintaining a good work/life balance.

Did it work? Let’s check the scorecard

An independent academic evaluation of the programme by Professor Andy Smith at Edge Hill University Lancashire, found that just over three-quarters of participants felt they were more aware of how to look after their health and wellbeing having attended Offload, and just under three quarters felt better able to cope with everyday life and manage setbacks and challenging situations.

Construction guys, Offload’s got your back

Through Movember’s Scaling What Works grant funding programme, Offload has been adapted to support men in the male-dominated construction industry which is dogged by intense workloads, financial problems and poor work-life balance. In 2021, male workers in the construction industry were twice as likely to die by suicide than the average man in England and Wales.

However, there is a huge disparity in suicide rates within the industry itself. Between 2015 and 2021, the average suicide rate of labourers in England and Wales has been 12.4 times that of highly skilled occupations within the sector (such as production managers and directors).

Chats from the top dogs at Movember & Rugby League

Rhiannon Watt, programmes manager, community and workplace at Movember, says:

“Rugby League Cares (RLC) has a strong track record of delivering Offload in male-dominated workplaces and community settings. Movember’s mission is to reduce the number of men dying by suicide. We’re delighted to be working with RLC to help deliver Offload to the construction industry where we know there are still many men who are reluctant to talk about their mental health and ask for help when they need it.”

Rugby League Cares Head of Community Emma Goldsmith said:

“We are looking forward to working with Movember to replicate the success of Offload with workers in the construction industry. Offload’s track record in changing both behaviours and the perception of mental fitness is well proven, both among rugby league fans and the wider public alike, and we’re confident we can enhance the lives of construction workers with the support of Scaling What Works.”