27th August 2014

THE upcoming round of First:Utility Super League is being dedicated to State of Mind – and Bradford Bulls ace Chev Walker is right behind the initiative.

Established in 2011 in response to the tragic death of Terry Newton, State of Mind is designed to raise awareness of mental health issues, tackle stigma and signpost support to rugby league players and fans that do not access help.

No other sport in the UK has ever themed a round of fixtures for mental well-being and 2014 is the fourth year State of Mind has "taken over Super League".

While plying his trade with Hull Kingston Rovers, back in 2009, Walker suffered an horrific leg break.

And the utility forward, who acts as a State of Mind ambassador, has spoken of how the injury took a mental and physical toll on him.

However, the support of a network of people helped him make a return to rugby league.

The 31-year-old, who recently agreed a new one-year deal with the Bulls, said: "You tend to reach out to everybody really.

"Obviously, you're dependent on the physio to do their job and you try to build a relationship with them to make sure that you're getting the most out of your days counting down to the comeback.

"But there's also your team-mates. You try and stay in the loop with them and not distance yourself because you're not training with them.

"For me, it was a matter of being able to keep my face in there and make sure I spent some time with the boys, staying in that team environment."

Walker also believes that talking to others is vital for any player who is experiencing difficulties.

"I think it does make people aware that there are people there to talk to," he said.

"It just encourages people to talk freely about being down. For me, it's really important that we do raise awareness that there are people to talk to.

"I think with State of Mind being in place, it doesn't have that stigma attached to it any more.

"If you are feeling a bit down or a bit fed-up, then the younger lads are more comfortable coming forward, approaching the senior players and saying it.

"I know back in my day you probably didn't want to approach them (because of the stigma), but realistically the actual game hasn't changed that much.

"They probably would have listened to you and given you time, it's just a matter of there now being more awareness that there are issues with sports people, especially young men.

"It's good that it's out there and people don't feel alienated and think they're on their own.

"We play in a sport where we're all friendly and we all get out there on the pitch. We are what we are, which is rugby players. Don't be afraid to talk."

This Sunday's trip to Castleford Tigers will be dedicated to the State of Mind programme – and you can secure tickets for the round twenty-five clash TODAY!

Tickets are priced at £19 (adults) and £11 (concessions), with 'swaps' available for junior season-ticket holders – from the Ticket Office.

Return coach travel is also available for just £10, with coaches departing the Provident Stadium from 1.00pm.

To book tickets and travel NOW, call our hotline on 08448 711 490!