Ex-rugby league star tackles mental health issues with fitness app

A former borough RL star has launched the UK’s first fitness app focused solely on tackling mental health issues - after battling his own demons.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 2:52 pm

Jamie Acton, ex-Leigh Centurions prop and Super League player, is the man behind Banish, which is in support of CALM and donates five per cent of all subscription revenue to the charity.

Inspired by his own serious mental health struggles after a devastating career-ending spinal injury at the age of just 27 left him feeling suicidal, the app now serves to support other young people, helping them to recognise and manage their daily demons through exercise.

“After my neck surgery, playing rugby was no longer an option for me,” said Jamie. “And that really knocked me for six. I was depressed and at times, felt suicidal – my life lacked focus for the first time and as an athlete that was a very tough place to be.

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Jamie Action during his spell as a Leigh Centurions player
Jamie Action during his spell as a Leigh Centurions player

“I relied on exercise to get me through those really dark days and I realised that my story could potentially help others. It really inspired me to do something to support other men facing similar mental health battles.

“Banish provides a healthy way to help rid those demons in your head through exercise. Whether it’s a 10-minute routine in the office or a longer session at the gym, Banish focuses on working out to improve your emotional state and support positive mental wellbeing.

“This is also a chance for me to speak out specifically about male mental health.

“To many, my appearance and size translates to strength and it’s tough for people to understand that I may be battling some serious mental health issues. And that goes for many men, we’re told to be strong, carry on, don’t cry – and in the rugby world this is even more true. So, for me, not only can Banish help those using the app, but it also serves as a chance for me to continue breaking down the stigmas around male mental health and what depression really looks like.”

Launched in May, the app has already proved popular and initial results have been very positive.

In early 2021 a pilot programme tested the app. Of the pilot group, 78 per cent of users felt more in control of their mental demons after using the app and 91 per cent said Banish helped them identify how they were feeling and showed how positively exercise impacted their mood. For details visit banishfitness.com.

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