WARRINGTON Wolves hooker Micky Higham thinks it is important that Rugby League players use their fame to help raise awareness of mental health issues.
Speaking as Wolves prepare to face Huddersfield Giant at The Halliwell Jones Stadium tonight, 8pm, in a First Utility Super League round dedicated to State of Mind, Higham underlined the need for people in all walks of life to understand that mental health issues can strike at any time.
"Many people idolise Rugby League players and see them as role models," said Higham.
"It's great if you can speak out about mental health issues. In other walks of life, for sports people not at our level, and people in everyday life, they have highs and lows too.
"There's times when you're not doing well in your job. We relate that to not playing well or injury, or being out of the team.
"I know it's a privilege to play in a professional sports team, but there's pressure on you to perform.
"I think some people forget that you try your best every single time you go on the field, but it doesn't always go to plan.
"We have emotions too, if you put a fly on the wall in a player's front room when they've lost, it'd be like watching a horror film!"
Higham is a big supporter of State of Mind programme and the work it does to improve the mental health, wellbeing and working life of Rugby League players and communities.
"I think it's fantastic, I wish it had been around a few years ago to help players," he said.
"When things aren’t going your way, you need someone to talk to. I said it a couple of years ago, people think rugby players are big, tough, strong men who are made of steel.
"For the times when you're not playing, or you come to the end of your career, there should be something there to give a little bit of guidance and help before it's too late."
Talking about issues is also something which Higham believes is vital for players to do. Coaches, welfare officers and team-mates are all potential sources of support.
"I'm very close to Chris Hill, Stefan Ratchford, and Paul Wood. I'm older than all of them, but I still feel like I could go and speak to them,” said Higham.
"Tony Smith's good with that too, his door's always open. We have a laugh and joke in training, but he always says if there's something on your mind, his door's always open.
"People think rugby players are robots, but we're people as well. If you've got any issues, speak about it, because the longer you bottle it up the worse it gets.
"Don't be afraid of getting things off your chest, because once you do, it does feel so much better."
State of Mind takes over First Utility Super League in Round 25 for the games on the weekend of August 28-31.
Look out for volunteers providing information on mental health at all grounds across the weekend.
For more information, visit www.stateofmindrugby.com or follow @SOMRugbyLeague on Twitter.