Milner-Skudder goes Headfirst into mental health
Nehe Milner-Skudder has more than just rugby training on his mind.
The Rugby World Cup champion is now in his third year as advocate for Headfirst, the New Zealand Rugby-run initiative supporting the mental wellbeing of players, coaches, staff, and families involved in rugby.
Milner-Skudder’s passion for mental health awareness began through seeing the other side of rugby, how players coped with challenges and how strongly it affected their wellbeing.
Being able to share his own experiences has helped and he believed that as a society, we are making great steps towards talking about our own health struggles and reducing the stigma of the subject of mental health.
“The closer everyone is, the more they can be themselves and bring their own strengths to the group, which I think helps as a collective,” he said.
The fullback has been part of the All Blacks, Highlanders, Hurricanes, Bulldogs and the mighty Manawatu Turbos.
Throughout these years of experience, he has learned what is important, with team comradery being at the forefront.
“Some of the more successful teams I’ve been in, I’ve noticed there’s a strong culture to the team, where everyone has that sense of belonging and everyone works hard for each other,” he said.
The upcoming Movember Foundation is just one of the ways the public can support mental health awareness alongside Milner-Skudder.
This year the 29-year-old planned to get some of the Turbos squad involved in the month, which encourages men to grow moustaches to raise awareness for men’s health. Milner-Skudder said he was planning on a sneaky head-start to get his growth underway.
There is often a lot of and joking around the month of beard growing but Milner-Skudder said the purpose behind it of supporting the well-being of men was hugely important.
He hoped one day mental health was not something that needed awareness weeks and promotion, that it would just be part of conversation expected in daily life.
“Hopefully we build such strong relationships and connections that we can be our true authentic selves and not have to worry about any judgement.”
If you or anyone you know are looking for some direction or support with their wellbeing, check out www.headfirst.co.nz. On the website you can find self-tests, information and support networks for anyone concerned about the mental health of themselves or others.