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Major sports clubs in Bradford have pledged to put men’s mental health in the spotlight by backing a suicide prevention campaign which urges people to ‘check in with their mates’.

Bradford Bulls, Keighley Cougars, Bradford City AFC and Yorkshire Cricket have all signed up to give their star-power backing to the ongoing ‘Check In With Your Mate’ campaign, developed by West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership’s (WY HCP) suicide prevention programme.

The campaign, which has been boosted to deliver its message to sporting fans across Bradford by their local public health team, aims to normalise conversations around mental health and suicide, particularly among men.  The four professional sports clubs will be sharing the campaign with their fans and social media followers over the coming months, using their wide reach among local men to help raise awareness and encourage people to have conversations with their friends which could help save lives.

Plans include sharing the campaign’s important messages and graphics on big screens, pitch-side banners and kits as well as articles in match day programmes and video interviews with players.

The campaign uses the webpage which offers advice on what to say to a friend who might be struggling as well as directing people to local specialist support services.

Cllr Sarah Ferriby, Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, said: “Mental Health as we all know can hugely impact people’s lives and their families, being able to share or talk a situation through with someone about how we are feeling can make a difference.  I hope that working in partnership with local agencies across the district will allow us to highlight the fact that support is out there 24/7 whether that’s talking to a friend, work colleague or family members.”

Rose Dunlop, Consultant in Public Health said “Between 2019 and 2021 there have been 132 registered deaths from suicide in Bradford with 76% of these being males. I’m pleased that our district’s major sports teams have given their backing for this powerful campaign. For people who are struggling with mental health, being able to talk to someone about it can be an important first step to getting the help they need.

“With the grants that we’re issuing to the teams who have signed up, we can enable them to spread this message to their huge network of supporters, encouraging more people to ‘check in with their mates’ when it really matters”.

Jess Parker, Programme Manager for WY HCP’s suicide prevention programme, said: “Every suicide is one too many and has a catastrophic and rippling effect on those left behind.

“We know that suicide rates tend to rise in times of economic downturn, and that a growing number of people are experiencing poverty and financial exclusion. We want to decrease rates further and have adopted a zero-suicide approach. We believe all suicides are preventable.

“It’s so important to just reach out and have those conversations with men – and women – at home, at work, in the community. It might just save a life.”