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Football supports mental health

The 'No Substitute' campaign poster
The 'No Substitute' campaign poster Image credit: skysports.com

A grassroots football club is tackling the subject of men’s mental health after they launched a new initiative earlier this year.

The North Riding County Football Association teamed up with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council in February to form the ‘There’s No Substitute for Good Mental Health’ campaign in February as a response to the shocking statistic the rate of suicide on Teesside was once 70 per cent higher than the national average.

North Riding FA chief executive Steven Wade told Sky Sports: "We want this campaign to really reach out and have the desired impact of getting people talking about good mental health, and ultimately that might save a life.

"The suicide rate on Teesside is the highest in the country, unfortunately. At one point, it was 70 per cent above the national average, hence the urgency and necessity for the campaign.

"From our own experience and my own professional experience in the past working in sports development and delivering health programmes, we know that young adult males are a difficult target group to reach with health improvement and public health programmes."

Talking about how Covid-19 has affected people’s wellbeing Wade said: "Inevitably lockdown has played a huge part and had a massive impact upon everyone's mental health, but particularly that demographic of people who the No Substitute for Good Mental Health campaign targets, young men who live on their own, who potentially are struggling for employment.

"Obviously, there has been huge unemployment as a result of Covid, and inevitably it has had an impact upon people's mental health generally across the population because we've all been locked up indoors for an extended period of time.

"Clearly, football is an outlet for people, so I think it's inevitable that there's been an impact upon people who are connected to grassroots football, and that's why it's such a timely campaign that we're involved in."

A local campaign has seen the Every Mind Matters website be advertised on bus shelters around the borough and social media by grassroots clubs.

Wade added: "We're just encouraging people to talk. If people are struggling, then don't be afraid to speak up.

"At the same time, if you identify a team-mate or a coach at your club or one of the volunteers who you think may potentially be struggling, then don't be afraid to approach them and maybe offer to listen and provide that little bit of support, but definitely direct people to the excellent resources that are available on the website."

Every week in England, eight out of every 100 people will experience some form of anxiety or depression.