England prop Joe Marler urges men to speak up in mental health campaign

England prop Joe Marler has urged any men struggling with mental health issues not to suffer in silence.

The 30-year-old, who has spoken out about his own battles with depression this year, has stressed there is no shame in seeking help.

Marler can identify with the problems experienced by many men in fearing they may be showing weakness by seeking advice.

The Harlequins forward was speaking in his role as an ambassador for the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), for whom he features in a new video message to coincide with International Men’s Day.

“Rugby is the ultimate macho sport, and there is a fear that if you show any sort of weakness publicly then you’re giving free reign to the opposition to take advantage of any weakness,” Marler said.

“I always worried that if I was to open up about my mental struggles that it would be used against me by opposition players or seen as a weakness by my own team-mates.

“There’s definitely a stigma surrounding mental health but it’s far better than what it used to be. The more players have come out and opened up about it, the less of a stigma there is around it.”

Marler is an ambassador for the charity CALM
Marler is an ambassador for the charity CALM (Mike Egerton/PA)

Marler is seen in the video, which is available on YouTube, delivering what at first appears a standard post-match interview. However, on closer inspection it reveals a hidden message, conveying how people can hide their true feelings.

He said: “I’ve struggled with my own mental health for the last few years, and it got particularly dark in the last 18 months.

“That is why I wanted to get involved in this project, to help others who feel the same as me, and try and help them understand that it’s OK to struggle, and that they are not alone with these feelings.”

:: Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide through vital life saving support, impactful and provocative campaigns and collective action. To find out more visit www.thecalmzone.net

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