AS PART of World Mental Health Day, Pontypool RFC chief executive officer Ben Jeffreys has announced plans for the club to sign the Time to Change Wales Employer Pledge, which aims to end mental health stigma and discrimination within the workplace.

The pledge involves organisations committing to take actions that will lead to a reduction in discrimination within it and the wider community.

"Within the next few months, Pontypool RFC will be signing the Time to Change Wales Employer Pledge to end mental health stigma and discrimination within the workplace," said Mr Jeffreys. "It is important to let colleagues, players and fans know that they have a committed senior management team who are dedicated to mental well-being, especially within sport.

"Rugby has the reputation of being a hard game that requires you to be tough and uncompromising – both on and off the field. This has created a barrier that discourages people from showing their vulnerabilities and this is something we have to change over time.”


Mr Jeffreys, 30, an advocate for Time to Change Wales, has been speaking about his story to encourage people to be more open about their mental health, and to help reduce the stigma around it.

He suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which was caused by emetophobia, a phobia that causes intense anxiety to vomiting, since early childhood. The thought of vomiting or being around sick people would trigger his OCD by washing his hands excessively for hours with boiling hot water, and brushing his teeth up to thirty times a day.

On average, he would be gargling two bottles of mouthwash a day.

Mr Jeffrey’s OCD led to depression and having suicidal thoughts. He felt trapped by the constant thought of becoming ill, which made performing everyday tasks almost impossible for him, until he was appointed CEO of Pontypool RFC.

“My father’s childhood rugby club, Pontypool RFC, faced liquidation so he made the decision to pay off all outstanding debts and take full control of the club," he said. "Unfortunately, in the weeks following his decision, he suffered a stroke which left him unable to work.

"After volunteering for several months to get the club back up and running, I was appointed chief executive officer. I felt totally undeserving of the role at the time, particularly when I was still coming to terms with my father’s ill health, as well as battling with my own mental health.

"Nonetheless, I believe it came at the right time. I needed a sense of purpose and an opportunity to grow as a person.

"In short, Pontypool RFC saved my life.

“Fortunately, my OCD and depression are now under control, however I still attend regular therapy sessions as there is still progress to be made, and I now know that there are so many people who care about the mental well-being of others thus asking for help should be nothing to be ashamed of whatsoever."

Each year in Wales, between 300 and 350 people die by suicide – this is almost three times the number killed in road accidents. Suicide is also the biggest killer for men under 50 in the UK and globally, it is responsible for 800,000 deaths which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds.

For more information and advice about mental health, visit