CHEV Walker has spoken of the importance of players' mental health ahead of this weekend's round of Super League fixtures which are dedicated to the State of Mind programme.

The Bulls star suffered an horrific leg break when he was at Hull KR in 2009 and the injury took a mental as well as physical toll on him.

But the support of a network of people helped him make a return to rugby league.

State of Mind was established in 2011 in response to the death of Terry Newton, to raise awareness of mental health issues, tackle stigma and signpost support to rugby league players and fans that do not access help.

Walker, a State of Mind ambassador, said: "You tend to reach out to everybody really.

"Obviously, you're dependent on the physio to do their job and you try to build a relationship with them to make sure that you're getting the most out of your days counting down to the comeback.

"But there's also your team-mates. You try and stay in the loop with them and not distance yourself because you're not training with them.

"For me, it was a matter of being able to keep my face in there and make sure I spent some time with the boys, staying in that team environment."

Walker also believes that talking to others is vital for any player who is experiencing difficulties.

"I think it does make people aware that there are people there to talk to," he said.

"It just encourages people to talk freely about being down. For me, it's really important that we do raise awareness that there are people to talk to.

"I think with State of Mind being in place, it doesn't have that stigma attached to it any more.

"If you are feeling a bit down or a bit fed-up, then the younger lads are more comfortable coming forward, approaching the senior players and saying it.

"I know back in my day you probably didn't want to approach them (because of the stigma), but realistically the actual game hasn't changed that much.

"They probably would have listened to you and given you time, it's just a matter of there now being more awareness that there are issues with sports people, especially young men.

"It's good that it's out there and people don't feel alienated and think they're on their own."

Walker also has some advice for any player who is experiencing difficulties.

"Don't be afraid to talk, it's more manly to be able to talk about your problems and ask for that little bit of help," he said.

"We play in a sport where we're all friendly and we all get out there on the pitch. We are what we are, which is rugby players. Don't be afraid to talk."

Walker is currently sidelined with a hand injury he suffered against Huddersfield Giants last month but is hoping to return to action before the end of the season.