Dorset Mind announce a new rugby ambassador

Dorset Mind are pleased to announce a new ambassador – Bournemouth Rugby Club’s linchpin forward Toby Keneally.  This timely announcement comes towards the end of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, during which the charity has been working hard to reduce the stigma around mental health.

Toby will complete a full induction and training with Dorset Mind before he takes on this new role within the club.  It’s an indication that the club recognises the importance of mental health and the impact it has on physical health – they are intrinsically linked. Toby himself suffered a broken ankle at the start of the season, so is fully aware of the potential mental challenges that injury and the relatively short playing career can have on the players.

Following a successful operation Toby was thankfully able to return to the Bournemouth Lion’s in January however upon his return suffered a ruptured ACL that has put Toby out of the game for a further 12 months. Toby says “suffering physical injury is hard in itself but the mental trauma is very hard to deal with. I have had great support from Bournemouth Rugby and the sponsors and feel that my suffering can be focused to help others deal with mental health in sport and society”.

Bournemouth Rugby Chairman Phil Sinkinson OBE says “I am delighted that Bournemouth Rugby have the opportunity to work with Dorset Mind. As a part of our overall strategy we are aiming to get rugby out into the community in anyway that means Bournemouth Rugby can support great causes such as mental health. I am particularly pleased that Toby Kenneally has been asked by Dorset Mind to be an ambassador because he has suffered with mental trauma through injury and can now support others with their mental health. As chairman I am delighted that Bournemouth Rugby are able to lead in this important area of life and hope that in so doing other local and regional sports clubs will follow suit”.

Dorset Mind CEO Marianne Storey comments “We’re delighted to announce this new partnership with Bournemouth Rugby Club. By appointing Toby as a designated and trained mental health ambassador on our behalf, we hope this will encourage everyone at the club to be able to talk openly about their mental health just as they would their physical health.

By having a high profile and well-respected player like Toby as our representative, we hope that it will inspire an accepting culture within the club and raise mental health awareness from an early age. Not only this, with Toby on board it will help increase our profile and credibility as the leading mental health charity in Dorset.”

Dr Andrew Mayers, Principal Academic at Bournemouth University and Patron for Dorset Mind said “Encouraging people to talk openly about mental health is challenging enough, but perhaps none more so than with men. The public perception that they should ‘man up’ and not talk about emotions and anxiety simply stigmatises mental health. As a result, men are less likely to seek help, which internalises the problem, escalating it still further. The biggest killer of men under 50 is suicide; the most likely trigger for suicide is poor mental health.

Men are less likely than women to talk about emotions and mental health in support groups. However, one of the ways we can encourage men to ‘open up’ is to use the environments they are most comfortable with.  Sport is one of those. Also, when men see such a great role model as Toby talking about these things, they are more likely to talk too.”

If you would like to find out more about the work Dorset Mind carries out locally to educate and support people towards positive mental health, please head to their website: dorsetmind.uk