Elijah Taylor urges senior pros to step up in mental health fight

Elijah Taylor Salford Red Devils
Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix

Senior Super League players have a responsibility to look out for the mental health of their team-mates according to Salford forward Elijah Taylor.

This week sees Super League dedicate an entire round of fixtures to the Tackle The Tough Stuff initiative, working with charity Rugby League Cares to raise awareness of issues around mental health and wellbeing.

Taylor says he has seen a big shift in awareness of players’ mental health since his time in the NRL. He believes the sport is playing an active role in breaking down stigma.

“We are trying to build a culture at Salford where we are a tight-knit team and we are comfortable about sharing,” he says on this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast.

“I’ve been around and seen a lot at different NRL clubs. The more younger players know that there is someone they can talk to in the senior squad then that can make a huge difference to them being comfortable; and bringing up something they might not even have told their wives or parents, they are too scared. They might not even talk to the coach, but they can talk to a senior player. 

“Rugby League Cares has brought that awareness and senior players at every Super League club now know to be there for younger players who are about to travel the road that you have been on. If you can better equip them with skills or tips or talking confidentially, that gives players the confidence.

“The work behind the scenes isn’t for any glory. It is to help players be better players and people at all grades of the game.”

Only way is forgiveness

Taylor has spoken of his own struggles that came from the shock discovery that his former manager had defrauded him of more than £200,000.

Unable to recover the money after the individual declared himself bankrupt, Taylor says only when he offered forgiveness was he able to achieve peace of mind following a devastating episode that had ripped his life apart.

It is that experience that he now uses to help others suffering with their own traumas; and own hidden personal battles.

Taylor said: “Everyone’s going through pressures at home. Everyone’s going through pressures at work, everyone’s going through stress. Life can be chaos sometimes.

“So I think it is important to bring awareness and the support throughout rugby league.

“If you can help someone, that is a good and positive thing. The more stories that people can relate to from our game then the more people will understand that rugby league players are not just these macho gladiatorial men. They are human beings that go through a lot of pressure. If players like me can bring more awareness then I want to help.”

PODCAST: Tackle the Tough Stuff featuring Paul Wood, Peter Mata’utia & Elijah Taylor

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