As part of our Think Of A Fan campaign, the Toolstation Western League have featured an interview with mental health charity, Mind, on this weeks podcast. Tom Hore, a Director of Bristol Mind spoke with Ian Nockolds about the relationship between football and mental health and the work that Mind have done nationally with the professional game to encourage men, in particular, to talk about how they are feeling.
For the last two years, Mind and the English Football League have entered into a partnership to create a space for discussions about mental health. The Mind logo has featured on the backs of players shirts in the Championship, League One and League Two. Different Clubs, including Bristol Rovers, have worked with Mind to stage different events from bucket collections to fans forums, where people can talk openly about mental health.
Talking about the link between football and mental health, Tom said; “I’m a Coventry fan, I’ve been a Coventry fan for over 50 years, and it’ll be the one constant throughout my whole life. People change their relationships, their bank accounts, all those sort of things, more often than their football clubs. For a lot of people football does play an enormous part in their life, they remember things that have happened to them in their life in connection with different matches. And I think it is a place where people go, and they share, in those two hours that they’re there, they share a bond with all of those people around them, even if they’re on their own.”
“I saw a statistic that said that 40% of men wouldn’t go and seek any sort of support unless they had actively thought about suicide, which is quite a shocking figure. I think one of the big messages for all men is that it’s okay to be not okay and I think within football over the last year there has been an increasing number of footballers who have talked about their own depression; Danny Rose, Peter Crouch, and Lee Hendrie. There’s been an increasing number of players who’ve acknowledged it and found a voice to talk about it, which I think is enormously helpful. If these people who we look up to, have these problems and can say, I’m not okay and I need some help, I think it makes it easier for people like me to say that too.”
The Toolstation Western League is urging anyone struggling with their mental health to visit www.mind.org.uk/ or call 0300 123 3393. Mind operate a network of around 125 local Minds, including Bristol, Bath, Somerset, Devon, Dorset and Wiltshire which offer support to anyone, including football fans, with their mental health. The full interview with Bristol Mind can be heard on this weeks Toolstation Western League podcast, available at http://toolstationleague.com/podcasts.