RIL recently caught up with the founder of The Rut Pod, James Roycroft-Davis, to discuss his experiences with mental health, his motivations for starting a podcast and why the topic of mental health is so important within rugby.
1. Firstly, tell us a little bit about The Rut Pod?
The Rut is a podcast that showcases men’s experiences of mental health issues. It features a variety of men from all walks of life, sharing their stories of how they got into a rut, what it was like when they were there and how they got out of it. The aim of the podcast is simple; we #GetMenTalking one podcast at a time.
2. What inspired you to want to start the podcast in the first place?
When I was struggling with my own mental health, I found there weren’t many stories out there that I could relate to, so I created what I felt I would have benefited from when I was in my rut.
3. Why are you so passionate about spreading awareness of mental health issues?
When I began to open up to my friends about my own issues, I was surprised by how many of them had had their own experiences that they hadn’t shared. Men don’t tend to talk about their emotions and feelings much at all, and that’s a key contributor to the terrifying statistics we see today about male suicide. I know first-hand how much talking and learning about the support that was out there helped me and it’s so important that men learn to talk. We must spread the message that it’s OK to feel the way we do, it’s OK to talk about the way we feel, however big or small, and we must spread the message that ANYBODY can find themselves in a rut – mental health doesn’t discriminate.
4. Why do you think that it is so important for men to openly discuss their mental health and emotions?
In my experience, women find it much easier to talk about these things than men. Men often think it’s shameful or embarrassing to talk about how they feel for a variety of reasons, some of which we explore in the podcast.
5. Having interviewed the likes of John Hardie, Jono Kitto and Tom Lindsay, do you think it is important for professional rugby players, in particular, to talk about their own mental health experiences?
Absolutely, 100%. Firstly, it’s very important for rugby players to talk about their mental health because they find themselves in an environment where they have a heightened risk of serious injuries and performance-related pressure. Secondly, for people listening to their stories, hearing vulnerability from men who operate in such a perceived macho environment can be very empowering; perhaps they will feel that if these men can be vulnerable, so can they.
6. What does the future hold for The Rut Pod?
We’re starting to build a collection of stories from a variety of men which will hopefully showcase the widest variety of mental health experiences and issues for people to listen and relate to. Hopefully, men will listen and relate to these stories and be inspired to start talking to the people around them about their own experiences. We have been inundated with men coming forward wanting to share their experiences of mental health issues, from rugby players, footballers and cricketers to businessmen, entrepreneurs, journalists, musicians, soldiers and many more, which is quite extraordinary and very heart-warming.
7. As someone who has suffered from mental health issues in the past, were there any podcasts that helped you when you were going through difficult times?
No, and there were very few resources that helped me, which is why I launched The Rut.
8. Lastly, why should people listen to The Rut Pod?
If you’re struggling with your mental health, hopefully, you will hear a relatable story and know you’re not alone and feel encouraged to reach out. If you know someone who is struggling, you may gain an insight into their experience which will help you support them. If you don’t know someone who is struggling that is almost certainly because no one has shared what they’re going through! Listening to the podcast might help you identify warning signs, understand common triggers and experiences. Ultimately, if we all understand this area a bit more, we can all help each other, #GetMenTalking and maybe even save some lives.