Rugby players suffering from mental health issues will be provided with the tools to help them overcome life’s anxieties thanks to a new pilot scheme being funded by The Barbarians Charitable Trust.

Rugby mental health charity Brave Mind has been awarded £10,000 to help launch its Anxiety Kit Bag programme, which aims to help male and female student rugby players struggling with anxiety at two UK universities.

Anxiety Kit Bag will provide mental health education among the universities’ rugby teams in order to improve understanding of mental health issues, offering self-management techniques and prevention advice, and resources aimed at common challenges students report facing.

Brave Mind has decided to focus on universities for the pilot in an attempt to combat statistics that show there has been a 450% increase in student mental health declarations in the past decade and that 37% of first-year students in England report symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The programme has been devised by Brave Mind’s team of sports psychologists, with the funds granted by the Barbarians covering the cost of four psycho-educational workshops to promote conversation and provide better mental-health knowledge among the rugby community – empowering people to start or maintain a healthier relationship with anxiety.

The four sessions will focus on understanding anxiety, performance anxiety, exam anxiety and social setting anxiety, while content on the impact injury can have on players’ mental health will also be made available. In order to maintain the impact of the sessions, programme support materials will be created to keep the conversation going throughout the year.

The success of the pilot will be judged by a combination of quantitative and qualitative data that will be collected throughout the project, with results forming part of a longer-term plan for more widespread activity with rugby clubs, universities, colleges and schools in the future.