A Wigan man is tackling the stigma surrounding mental health with a clothing range to be sold for charity.
Matt Peet created Behind A Smile after battling depression for several years and wanting to do something to support others in a similar situation.
He designed the logos and came up with the words which now adorn a range of T-shirts and bags, thanks to a partnership with Bolton-based design outfit Infinitee Threads.
The Shevington 30-year-old is also using his links with the local rugby scene, including getting Super League pros on side, to spread his message of speaking openly about mental health issues and giving those struggling some encouragement.
Matt said: “I’ve suffered with depression myself and I found I put on an act to try to mask it, hence the name Behind A Smile. Our latest one is Never Give Up which comes from an episode I had over Christmas. I’ve felt like giving up myself at times and I want people to see someone wearing it and find the strength to carry on.
“First and foremost I want the designs to look good, but all the logos are also intended to start a conversation. I want people to say it’s a cool T-shirt and the conversation to then flow from that. It’s OK to talk about mental health issues but there’s definitely still a massive stigma. I also think sometimes it can be the person themselves struggling to come to terms with things in their own mind rather than other people’s perception.
“Times are changing for the better but that will only happen through doing different things. I want my clothes to be for people who want to support those with mental health issues, understand more about it or just buy a top and feel their money is going somewhere worthwhile.”
Matt first tried to start Behind A Smile about three years ago but struggled due to linking up with a US company which meant he could only raise funds for its American partner charities.
He relaunched the idea a year ago and now has ambitious plans to expand the merchandise range to hoodies, polo shirts, hats and other garments.
Former Orrell RU Junior flanker and keen Wigan RL fan Matt is being supported by Warriors squad player Kyle Shelford and Sam Gee from the Oldham Roughyeds who wear his Behind A Smile gear.
So far he has raised more than £450 and is looking for local charities who would like to benefit too.
He said: “I’d like to work with smaller organisations rather than big national ones so you can see where the money is going.
“I’m just looking to donate as much money as I can and help local people and charities.
“It would be nice to do some work myself for a charity at some point, maybe design some clothes for them too.”