PONTYPOOL RFC chief Ben Jeffreys has thrown his support behind a campaign to raise awareness of mental health problems among men in sport.

The CEO has himself suffered a long-term mental health battle and says this latest campaign ‘represents something very close to my heart.’

The club are selling Pooler branded bobble hats, designed by Noggin Sport, to raise money for mental health projects across the UK.

Mr Jeffreys said: “We are pleased to be associated with them.

“It represents something very close to my heart. Rugby, and in particular Pontypool, has been central to my recovery with my mental health.

“We are a club that cares about people. We are a club that is very open that it is perfectly okay to talk about it if you’re struggling and we are there to support people with their challenges.

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Pontypool RFC’s head of rugby analysis Tom Hancock wearing one of the hats before the Cross Keys cup match in January. Picture: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency.

“The message that always comes back is that sport and rugby can offer people a distraction.

"We had a first batch back in October and they sold out within an hour.

“The hats and the popularity of them signifies how attitudes towards mental health are changing.

“When I started to really struggle 10 to 12 years ago when I started university there was a real stigma around it.

“Now, that is changing.”

Noggin Sport was set up by Jersey Reds lock Conor Joyce and his brother Keiran, and aims to raise awareness of the effects of mental illness in sport.

Conor said: “Me and my brother started the company a year and a half ago. I was playing rugby at Ulster at the time.

“My brother was going through a rough time at uni. He suffered with depression.

“A couple of weeks later, we lost our uncle to suicide. When that happened it really touched home with us.

“A lot of people know someone who has been affected by mental health problems

“It has really taken off in Wales. It is a massive part of life and it is great to see so many people supporting us.

“A lot of clubs want to get involved because they have someone at the club who has been affected by mental illness.

“They can be an open environment to talk about these problems.”

The hats cost £12, with all proceeds going to good causes.

To order a hat, email gareth.rusbydavies@pontypoolrugby.co.uk or send a direct message to the club’s Twitter account.