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WATCH | How school rugby helps kids learn to tackle their mental health

As an avid rugby player, Scott Sloan realised the importance of community to mental health.

"From a young age I learnt the power of teamwork," he says. Having experienced his own struggles with anxiety and depression, Sloan is now harnessing rugby to help vulnerable children build their resilience.

Sloan started the School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) in South Africa after witnessing its success in the United Kingdom, where disadvantaged children regularly came together to play rugby.

“The School of Hard Knocks aims to connect young people from violent communities with mental healthcare services,” Sloan says.

Many children in South Africa have witnessed or experienced violence, which leaves them traumatised and unable to cope with everyday challenges.

SOHK provides support and guidance from counsellors to help children understand their circumstances, while improving their wellbeing by playing rugby.

“Sports creates healing within the self and connection within communities,” Sloan says.

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It is critical for children to learn how to process trauma and their emotions so that they are able to develop healthy coping mechanisms.

SOHK is creating a community that encourages youth to make a positive change in their lives.

“Young people have got the inner resources to set goals for themselves, make new friends, and manage a plan for themselves and their lives so that they succeed within and out of school,” Sloan says.

A support system is key to dealing with personal challenges. Through rugby, the SOHK is changing the narrative on mental health and helping South African youth tackle their hardships head on.

Footage by School of Hard Knocks was used in the creation of this film.