#itsoktotalk: rugby player launches male mental health campaign

Halifax rugby player Luke Ambler pledging itsoktotalk Credit: ITV News

A campaign by a Rugby League player urging men to talk about mental health problems, with the aim of cutting the number of suicides, has gone viral after winning the support of stars from the sporting and showbiz world, politicians and writers.

Halifax prop Luke Ambler felt compelled to act after his brother-in-law Andy Roberts took his own life earlier this year.

Andy Roberts and his daughter Annabel-Rose Credit: Family

Andy, a father-of-one from Halifax, was just 23 when he died. His family say there was no warning that he was planning to kill himself.

Now Luke has set up Andy's Man Club and asked people for a simple online gesture - to post a selfie while doing the "okay" sign, along with the hashtag #itsokaytotalk - and nominate or tag five other friends to do the same.

Ricky Gervais pledging itsoktotalk Credit: Twitter / @rickygervais

The campaign has already won the support of Ricky Gervais, England Rugby Union star Danny Cipriani, former Health Minister Norman Lamb and Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh.

Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. According to the charity CALM, (The Campaign Against Living Miserably) there were 4,623 male suicides in the UK in 2014, the second highest number in 15 years and the equivalent of 12 deaths a day.

As well as the social media campaign, Luke has also begun weekly sessions called 'Andy's Man Club' in Halifax, where a total of around 30 men have gathered to talk about their problems.

He said:

Andy's mother Elaine attended her son's inquest on Wednesday. The coroner recorded a verdict that Andy took his own life. She is backing Luke's campaign and spoke to Jon Hill about the impact his suicide has had on the family.

If you would like help with the issues raised in this article, please contact the Samaritans.