Paul Highton | “It was quite inspiring to be honest”

Last night 857 people assembled – breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest-ever Mental Health session – at the Halliwell Jones Stadium with Salford Red Devils Football and Player Welfare Manager Paul Highton being heavily involved in the event.
Highton said: “It really was a great event and it was quite inspiring to be honest.
“I think the previous record was around 668 and we managed to get over 800 people in there, it was a massive turnout and it was fantastic to be involved in something monumental like that.
“Guinness World Record or not it was nice to see so many people coming together in the Halliwell Jones Stadium last night all for the subject of mental health.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than spreading the word of mental awareness and the crowd really lapped it up and bought into it.
“It’s one of those taboo subjects is mental health as soon as you mention it people either want to turn and walk or try and change the subject.
“The more we can talk about it and use the people who have a profile like sportspersons or public figures the more it normalises mental health. This allows people to have a platform to talk about it and just give them that ability to feel confident that what they talk about isn’t going to get shunned.”
The event centred around six speakers – one of which being Paul Highton – each giving their own talk on a specific area regarding mental health with the Red Devils Football and Player Welfare Manager discussing ‘transition’.
Highton said: “I focused on transition, so I talked about my story from being a player for twenty years then retiring and setting up a business and how I struggled with a loss of identity and structure.
“I self-medicated and drank to try and change the way I was feeling, and I was telling the people in attendance that you don’t need to go down that route and encouraging people to get hobbies.
“We’ve all got more things going on that just our jobs and it’s important we notice that and take our identities away from solely what we do for work.”
The Red Devils and Paul Highton have a very strong and positive relationship with State of Mind with Salford donning the State of Mind logo on their 2017 Dacia Magic Weekend kit.
Salford Red Devils and Widnes Vikings are set to open this year’s Betfred Super League ‘State of Mind’ round on Thursday 14th June with Paul Highton setting out the Red Devils’ stall taking out Widnes mascot Kemik the Viking at last night’s event.
Highton said: “We were doing an end-to-end kicking competition and there was me and Wolfie [Warrington Wolves’ mascot] were paired up against Ian Smith – former referee – and Kemik the Viking [Widnes Vikings’ mascot].
“Unfortunately, Kemik crossed my path so I had to drop my shoulder and knock him to the floor with his head rolling off!”
Everyone at Salford would like to congratulate everyone that was involved in the event.

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