TWO ex-pro rugby players headed down to BAE alongside mental health staff to help break the stigma that surrounds mental health.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, former England rugby league captain Danny Sculthorpe and former Scotland international Phil Veivers spoke to hundreds of BAE staff to share their experiences of mental health difficulties.

At a time when Barrow has recently experienced the tragic loss of several young men who have taken their own lives, Danny Sculthorpe hoped to reach those who chose to keep silent in the face of mental health problems.

In 2010 the rugby star signed a four-year deal at Bradford, but in his third week of pre-season he prolapsed a disk in his spine whilst lifting weights.

This resulted in the trapping of the sciatic nerve down his right leg which meant he needed surgery.

However, within 10 days after surgery he picked up a huge MRSE infection that caused severe pain resulting in three more months of treatment.

Following this, his contract with Bradford was terminated sparking a long and difficult battle with depression and suicidal tendencies.

He came to BAE yesterday to share his story and to encourage others that it is OK to speak out when you are having problems.

Germaine Griffiths, BAE Systems mental health first aiders and project lead said: “To get speakers of Danny and Phil’s calibre is a coup.

“They speak from experience and bring a real insight into mental well-being which we know strikes a chord with colleagues here.

"BAE Systems have over 240 mental wellbeing champions and 20 mental health first aiders with more about to join the campaign who we know will makes difference long after mental health awareness week is over.”

The Mail's 'Time to Talk' campaign also seeks to break the stigma that surrounds mental health by encouraging others to speak out and share their problems.

If you are experiencing difficulties please call the Samaritans free helpline 24hours a day 365 days a year on 116 123.