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Govox: How rugby spawned mental health indicator system

Copyrights: ConnectSportUK

Govox: How rugby spawned mental health indicator system

Govox is an initiative that brings mental wellbeing to the forefront of organisational practices - particularly sports clubs, and makes it easy to check in with individuals who may be in need of support.

ConnectSport is being supported by Govox, the online mental health and wellbeing tool which has completed over 100,000 ‘wellbeing check-ins’. The tool was born from a need in community sport, identified by co-founder Richard Lucas, to provide more preventative measures around mental health and suicide.

When Richard Lucas found out about the suicides of two players within 18 months at a rival amateur rugby club, he felt compelled to do something about it.

There had been few or no warning signs in either case, explains Richard. And when, in response, the club set up a small Samaritans-type ‘first response’ charity called JOCA (‘Just one click away’) for members, he was taken aback by the results.

What we found through the experience was that many of the guys who were using it were often what we call the ‘first to the bar’ characters, usually the life and soul of the party,” says Richard, a business leader of more than 25 years.

So, if you were to observe a room full of people, you would not have thought these guys had the problem - and in fact they needed the help!

Rugby is just my hobby sport, so I thought about this in my day job where I am responsible for a large number of people, and it turned out we had had a couple of near misses. I remember running a meeting and someone said they hadn’t been able to get hold of a colleague. I reverted to my old reaction, saying ‘we have got customers waiting, what’s he doing not turning up to work?’ We subsequently found out that this young chap had tried to commit suicide overnight.

It really got me thinking that my initial reaction was awful and not supportive at all; that I was more concerned about performance and delivery, yet there was someone there who was really struggling – just as those guys at the rugby club must have been. It got me thinking and I started talking to more and more people about it, especially through sports clubs, and there just seemed to be so many occurrences. All of them had something in common, in that if you were their line manager or their coach, you thought it was unexpected.

It was this series of events which prompted Richard to sit down with “an innovative group of people” and “some experts who had supported mental health and wellbeing” and the Govox ‘wellbeing check-in’ was born. Govox is an online mental health and wellbeing tool that, according to Richard, “helps people proactively pinpoint at-risk individuals and prioritise the conversations that matter”. This can be as simple as taking time out for a cup of coffee and a chat with an employee or team member.


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Monday, July 15, 2019 - 14:31