State of Mind charity breaks world record at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium

  • 857 people attended record-breaking evening
  • Record was set for the highest number of people attending mental health awareness event
  • People from world of rugby league relayed their experiences

Mental health charity State of Mind has set a world record for the largest number of people attending a mental health awareness event.  

The charity took over the Wolves’ stadium in Warrington for an evening of storytelling from former rugby league professionals to raise awareness of mental health problems. 

More than 850 people attended the workshop, beating the previous record set in China by almost 200 people.  

Audience participation was required in order to set a new record and the crowd obliged during the evening, replying to various questions with the yes/no cards provided. 

The evening in the sun was hosted by charity founder, Dr Phil Cooper, who alongside fellow trustees, shared tips on how people can help improve and control their mental health. 


In response to the extremely positive turnout, Dr Phil said: “A fantastic night. The former players spoke from the heart about their own mental health and overcoming their problems.

“Sharing real life experiences to raise awareness of mental health was really powerful and brought the lesson to life.”

“I feel proud to work for North West Borough’s Healthcare and State of Mind Sport, and to have the chance to raise awareness about mental health in the area.”

Former Wigan forward Danny Sculthorpe took to the microphone and spoke of his struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts after he picked up a back injury during training for new club, Bradford Bulls. 


Danny was hospitalised for months after picking up an infection during surgery. Bradford then released him from his contract, causing his mental health to deteriorate over worries about his family’s future. 

Ex-referee Ian Smith, who entered the event to a playful chorus of boos, explained to the crowd how difficult the role of a referee is when abuse is being hurled at you from all sides.

He encouraged people to understand that a referee is only human, and that next time they attend a game, to think before shouting from the stands.  

Ex-rugby league plater Jimmy Gittins told the crowd about his mental health battle, both physically and mentally, after breaking his neck in two places in 2002. He said it would have been easy for him to give up when he was in such a dark place, but instead he garnered the support of those around him and pushed through to achieve his physical and mental goals. 

Other speakers explained their own battles with mental health, both during their rugby league career, and also about adapting to life after the game. The ultimate message that everyone gave was to engage with close friends and family, as it as much easier to combat mental health problems with help, rather than alone.  


State of Mind was set up in 2011 following the tragic suicide of rugby league’s Terry Newton and offers sessions where people can express feelings about their mental health. The weekly sessions, known as, Offload Mental Health Fixtures, allow people to talk about their mental health in a secure and supportive environment.

Anyone suffering from negative mental health and needing someone to speak to can find contacts for an Offload session in either Salford, Warrington or Widnes here: