Warrington Wolves star Peter Mata’utia has done wonders for mental health and raising awareness even claiming an award at last year’s Super League awards.
Now Mata’utia has brought his beliefs to a wider audience speaking on Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch.
“I feel like we have this persona where we’re meant to be big strong men and I think just in life in general it’s important to speak out,” the centre said of how men and especially rugby league players are perceived.
“It’s not the load we carry, it’s how we carry it and I feel the more we can speak out and become more vulnerable then the better it is for ourselves and our surroundings to understand what we’re going through.
“My story starts in a broken home, from 11-years-old I didn’t have a father figure around so by the time I was 18 and I started achieving some of my rugby goals, I took it pretty deep not having a father figure around.
“I think I sort of tried to look for the validation of me succeeding in my goals, I should have had somebody there congratulating me like my friends had.
“Also having three younger brothers who also wanted to becoming rugby league players as well, I took on all that pressure of trying to become the role model that they needed and balancing that with turning 18 and being able to go away and make my own mistakes.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself that I wasn’t doing what I should be doing.”
The former Castleford Tigers star also spoke about his attempted suicide in 2008 because of the pressure he put on himself ay the start of his career:
“2008 was the first year I got into the first team and to be honest it should have been the best year of my life that year, but having all that pressure and letting it build up sort of got to me in the end and I tried to commit suicide.
“So about three years ago, I came out for the first time and told my teammates and just the impact and reactions I got from my own teammates, then hearing their stories too, sort of motivated me to share my story where I can.
“At the end of the day my story could be someone’s blueprint to their survival guide or to whatever they’re going through. We are proof of getting through adversity and chasing whatever you want, we can make it, everyone can make it.”
Mata’utia did then give this message to men struggling with mental health: “Life has a funny way of testing out how bad it is what we want for ourselves. Adversity is adversity, it’s going to happen no matter what. Never feel like you’re alone. I firmly believe that people are either going into the storm, in the storm of just coming out and that there’s always someone who is willing to listen to you.”