The government has recently extended the UK longdown by at least another three weeks, and this paired with the sunny spells might be cause for a subdued mental outlook. 

People suffering with debilitating mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, may particularly be feeling the impact of self-isolation.

With this in mind, spoke to Toronto Wolfpack players about wellness in the sixth and seventh installments of our limited video series in official partnership with the club. 

Keeping in touch 

“We often wonder about the true  ‘health benefits’ of technology”,  comments GP clinical lead at Dr Daniel Atkinson, “but one undeniable positive of the digital era is that it has helped most of us to stay in touch with the people that matter most.

It’s perhaps never been more important to maintain a connection with your friends and family, and to be as open as possible about how you’re coping. We’re living through both extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances, it’s important to keep this in mind and not feel as if we should suffer in silence.”

When we conducted our virtual interviews with Toronto Wolfpack players Gaz O Brien, Bodene Thompson, Tony Gigot, Gadwin Springer and Hakim Miloudi, the first question we asked was: 

How have you been keeping in touch with your teammates? 

Gaz O Brien: “All through Whatsapp. Obviously we’ve got a ‘players’ Whatsapp group that everyone’s in, and then we have a separate Toronto Wolfpack Whatsapp group that has got coaches and players in as well. So that’s how messages get back and forth, how we all keep in touch. 

I think we’ve all got our little groups. So we’ve got a little bus of five of us that travel together, obviously we’re used to speaking every day so I think we’ll have a group Facetime today just to catch up. And yeah, a bit of gaming goes on, bit of Fifa. I think some of the lads are on Fortnite as well.”

Bodene Thompson:I FaceTimed two of the boys this morning. Then, obviously, we’ve just got a couple of group chats that we keep in contact with. We’ve [also] been playing the PlayStation together online and we keep in contact that way.”

Hakim Miloudi: We have a group on Whatsapp [where] we keep talking, we keep laughing on that. Sometimes it’s hard because I miss the boys, I miss the training ground.”

The importance of maintaining contact with friends, family and colleagues

The previous question prompted us to ask a follow-up: 

Is it important to keep in touch with your teammates and colleagues?

Hakim Miloudi: “It’s important to stay in touch with the boys because, just to know [if] family is good, [tell them] my family is good, just before we all come back together we can keep laughing together, keep focused on everything and each other too. So he can give me advice, and me to them too.”

Gaz O’Brien: I think if you were in this position, stuck by yourself with no other contact with any other people it'd be a whole different kettle of fish, specifically for your mental health. With our family we’ve sort of made a conscious effort to try and give each other a ring each day, see how people are doing so. I think it’s vital for your sanity, while we’re confined to the indoors to keep in touch.”

Bodene Thompson: “I think it’s important just not to lose touch with the boys, obviously, it’s really hard times at the moment. When you can make some time, a simple call is always helpful and it makes someone sane. We try and keep in contact as much as possible.”

Keeping busy outside of work 

The more people who are able to work from home, the better. The more we stay at home, the greater our chances of limiting the transmission and spread of the coronavirus. 

However, it’s important that people who are currently in lockdown seek activities outside of their profession - the same goes for people staying home who are not working. 

“Being home so much more than we're used to”, comments Dr. Atkinson, “will really begin to take its toll on us mentally if we lose our sense of purpose and struggle to find contentment with our new realities.

Lots of people are now dedicating their newfound free time to once forgotten hobbies, like picking up a musical instrument or making a new commitment to personal fitness and nutrition. These are noble pursuits. I would just encourage people to ‘mix it up’ as much as possible so no two days feel entirely the same.”

This prompted us to task the players:

Is there anything outside of training you do to keep busy?

Gadwin Springer: “I’ve been watching some of my games. The past three games we’ve played I’ve been watching them. Sometimes you watch and see what you could change.”

Tony Gigot: “As I said I’m with my family. My nephew is 7 years old, and he loves soccer so I go in as a goalkeeper and I send him back the ball. I [also] like to play on the computer, we play for fun so yeah, I enjoy being with my family so I stay around and i’m happy and it’s okay.”

A message to the fans from the players

Our final question to the Toronto Wolfpack players: 

Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans and general public?

Gadwin Springer: I hope everyone is keeping well, I hope your families are keeping well and staying safe all day and hopefully everybody listens to the government and hopefully it’ll be over soon and we’ll be able to go and play again. Stay at home everyone!”

Tony Gigot: “just to take care of themselves, to stay safe at home, listen to what the government said about all the rules we need to respect and I hope to see them soon and to see them on the field and have fun.”

Gaz O’Brien: “Listen to the guidelines, stay safe and I’m looking forward to all this sorting itself out and getting back out onto the field doing what we love and. Hopefully the fans will be ready to get their rugby back on, up and running. And hopefully we can get back to Canada as well. Stay at home!”

Bodene thompson: “Thank you for all the support, you guys have been great and we can't wait to get back out there and play. As players we’re doing everything possible we can to make sure we’re in a fit change and making sure we’re mentally [prepared], and I just wanted to say to all the fans thank you all for the continued support. Hope everyone stays safe and don’t leave your homes, and keep productive at home and do some exercise.”

Hakim Miloudi: “Just want say thank you to all the fans, when we start the season some fans are coming there, and watching us, keep supporting us, we appreciate that and we will never forget what the fans are doing, and over there in Canada too cause I know I have a lot of message form the fans, sending a lot of love to keep working and doing what we do. Thank you so much and I can’t wait to see you over there in Canada.”