BRFC and Mental Health

So what is Mental Health?

Mental health‘ and ‘mental illness‘ are increasingly being used as if they mean the same thing, but they do not. Everyone has mental health, just like everyone has health.

What are the 5 signs of mental illness?

The five main warning signs of mental illness are as follows:

  • Excessive paranoia, worry, or anxiety.
  • Long-lasting sadness or irritability.
  • Extreme changes in moods.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping pattern.


Types of mental illness

  • mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder)
  • anxiety disorders.
  • personality disorders.
  • psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia)
  • eating disorders.
  • trauma-related disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • substance abuse disorders.


Biggar RFC is a very successful sports club, catering for a large number of rugby minded sports fans, players and supporters, incorporating a massively wide range of age, experience, sex, occupation and opinion.

The pandemic has meant that there has been little action over the past year and with many restricted to staying at home and many others working from home alongside their partners, wives, husbands, children and other family, stresses and strains are inevitable.

Frustrations caused by living together for lengthy periods without the release offered by socialising (just going out, meeting others, taking the daily commute, playing sport, going to the pub, going to the pictures, eating out, going to concerts…) take their toll and these situations have been made all the more difficult because of the worries over our own health and that of our relations and, of course in the worst case scenarios, the passing of friends and family.

Mental health effects us all regardless of whether or not we are in the midst of a pandemic. For many the rigours posed by getting through their day can be a struggle, sometimes made worse by the thought of exactly those opportunities listed above which so many of us have missed and now crave. For example, doing any of the above will involve money and the fear of spending too much but might also involve

getting dressed up – what to wear, unhappiness about appearance, weight, figure

meeting others: friends and strangers can pose identical problems – who, where, how will they react, how will I react

commuting fast cars, big lorries, busy roads, delays which lead to frustrations and late arrivals, missed appointments

sports, training and games too much/too little competition, fear of failure, attitude of parents, team members, coaches, injury, skill level

eating outcrowded restaurants, noisy partners, limited/unfamiliar menus,

pubs – crowded bars, drinking to excess, confrontation, violence, hangovers

crowds – strangers, too many people, getting pushed around in a crowd, worries about personal safety, belongings.

mediasocial media adds to the pressures of all these situations with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok and the like giving people the opportunity to pass comment, judgement and provide photographic ‘evidence’ about anyone to everyone. The keyboard warrior who posts comments without considering the feelings of others or worse still, who posts comments fully aware of the feelings of others!


A reminder……We ALL have mental health, just in the same way as we all have health!

The very simple greeting we are so familiar with

‘Hi, how are you?’

is most often batted away with

‘Fine, thanks’

very much in the same breath as we then pass comment about the weather ‘nice day!’ but ironically we are far more  inclined to spend 5 minutes and more discussing what ‘nice’ means in relating to the weather, than we are to trying to figure out what ‘fine’ might mean in relation to that person’s health!

The only exception is if someone has a bandage or a limp, or mentions that they have a doctors or dentists appointment. On these occasions the difficulties are visible and we can all easily empathise with that condition/state simply because most of us have had a bandage, a limp or have had an appointment at the doctors or dentists.

Mental Health has few obvious symptoms and we are conditioned to bat away our worries and instead to get on with life. That can be done of course if the person is able, but we should all be able to provide an ear, to listen and to support those who are going through rough times.


Biggar RFC has a proud  ‘One Club, One Family’ motto. As such, we should look to support each other in any way possible. Few of us will be able to fix the problem if it relates to Mental Health, but at the very least we should be willing to offer a listening ear and support.

And remember Mental Health affects us ALL, regardless of age and how well a person appears to be doing.

There is a wide variety of help available online to support someone suffering. These are easily accessed but the following links are worth investigating as a resource.


Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution

RSABI is an organisation which is particularly relevant to our situation catering as it does with agriculture. We have had a very positive link with RSABI through past mentor Andrew Dunlop who has hosted sponsorship days at the club to raise awareness.

RSABI looks to provide emotional, practical and financial support to individuals and their families across the agricultural sector including farming and crofting.


For parents, coaches, friends and anyone!

SRU Online e-learning course


How to look after your mental health


So what can we do to help ourselves and others?

The above all focuses on what mental health is.

As explained, it’s not always easy to spot. We all have our ‘off’ days, when we struggle to concentrate, find tasks more challenging than usual and when we are prone to making simple errors or forgetting things. There are many reasons for this and not all fall into the category of ‘mental health’.

A prolonged period feeling like this could well be an indication of someone who is struggling with their mental health however and as mentioned last week the following are warning signs:

  • Excessive paranoia, worry, or anxiety.
  • Long-lasting sadness or irritability.
  • Extreme changes in moods.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping pattern.


Types of mental illness

  • mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder)
  • anxiety disorders.
  • personality disorders.
  • psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia)
  • eating disorders.
  • trauma-related disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder) substance abuse disorders.


What can we do to help someone who we think might be struggling?

Asking twice is a good start.

How are you?’ is our standard greeting. But asking and then ignoring or glossing over the answer is the most common response. Most folks won’t embark on an explanation of a series of issues which are bothering them and most of us are too busy to really listen and don’t want ot hear of someone else’s travails because lets face it we’ve too much to worry about for ourselves!

But that’s all wrong! Most of us are probably happy and able to move on and discuss the weather, but if there is someone who you believe may be having it tough, then ask again…

How are you?’

(pause for a moment and then ask again)

No, but how are you, really?’

This second (repeated) question might be enough to get that person to open up, even just a little, to give an insight into how they are really feeling.

It’s unlikely that you are going to be able to solve their issues but talking will help show your support and indicate that you do care. A problem shared…..most people want to feel heard, especially when they are struggling with difficult emotions or experiences that might make them feel very alone.

What can be done to alleviate symptoms? The following are just 10 simple ideas which might seem obvious to us but might be less obvious to someone who is struggling. Encourage them – or try these yourself:

1. Talk about your feelings

Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled

2. Keep active

Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy, and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.

3. Eat well

Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.

4. Drink sensibly

We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary.

When the drink wears off, you feel worse because of the way the alcohol has affected your brain and the rest of your body. Drinking is not a good way to manage difficult feelings.

5. Keep in touch

There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face to face, but that’s not always possible. You can also give them a call, drop them a note, or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open: it’s good for you!

6. Ask for help

None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan.

If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear.

Local services are there to help you.

7. Take a break

A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health.

It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘me time’.

8. Do something you’re good at

What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past?

Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem

9. Accept who you are

We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn.

10. Care for others

Friends are really important… We help each other whenever we can, so it’s a two-way street, and supporting them uplifts me.’

Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together.


It would be silly to think that someone will cease to have problems if they adopt one, or even all of these, but it might help!

We can all help! Remember. Biggar RFC: One Club, One Family

And please, once again, if you haven’t already done so have a look at the SRU e-learning course by following this link.

It’ll take around half an hour to complete and then you will have taken a first step to aid your understanding (you can also donwload a glossy certificate to confirm your course!). Once you’ve completed the course could I please ask that you reply by email to let me know – it would be interesting to see how many members we can attract.