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CITY of Liverpool FC’s home game against Brighouse Town tomorrow will be dedicated to the mental health movement, Time To Change.
The club will be providing a safe space at the game for anyone who wants to speak about any mental health issues that they, or someone they know, might be suffering with, and for anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of related subjects.
It joins a wider social movement aimed at changing the way people view, approach and discuss mental health matters.
City of Liverpool FC’s welfare officer Mike Caulfield is an advanced nurse practitioner in mental health and will be available to speak to at the game.
“We are offering a safe space for anyone who may want support, may be struggling with their mental health, or just wants to talk,” says Caulfield.
“The aim of the day is to try and reduce stigma, encourage people to seek help, signpost anyone to the right help, and also to keep promoting City of Liverpool FC as an inclusive, supportive, non-judgemental football club who are there to support people via promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.”
The day ties in with many of the other initiatives started by the community arm of the football club, including the Social Football scheme which organises football sessions for all regardless of background, age, gender or football ability.
Caulfield will be joined by Dean McShane, a mental health nurse and senior lecturer at the University of Chester, and Neil Doolin, a mental health nurse from Merseycare.
There will also be representatives from the mental health organisations and charities Chasing The Stigma, James’ Place and State of Mind Sport.
The dedicated charity on the day will be the Lee Cooper Foundation which deals with mental health issues among younger members of the community.
It was created by teenagers, for teenagers, inspired by Lee Thornley who took his own life in February 2018, aged 17.
Among other things, the foundation offers a safe space for young people to discuss any worries they might have and provide support when they most need it.
Tomorrow’s event is linked to Time To Talk day 2020 which took place earlier in the month and encouraged people to have conversations about mental health, whether in person or simply by texting friends or family.
The initiative at City of Liverpool will be encouraging similar conversations within the environment of a football match.
“Opening that conversation up is really important and the best way to do it is in normal, everyday surroundings,” says founder and CEO of Chasing The Stigma, Jake Mills.
“For me, football is the perfect example. If we can get a message across to people in their own natural environment then that will be the most effective way.
“City of Liverpool FC have always had mental health high on their agenda and they are setting an incredible example of how to integrate important awareness and services within the community. There is a lot that high-profile clubs could learn.
“At Chasing the Stigma we are trying to normalise the conversation about mental health.
"Mental health isn’t bad, it’s not negative, it’s not an illness. Mental health is a part of us. Absolutely every single person in the world has mental health; good, bad or indifferent.”
Leaflets and information on all the organisations involved will be given out at the game for anyone who might want a point of contact in the future.
There will be more information in the clubhouse highlighting their work in support of people who may be suffering from mental health problems or are suicidal.
The Premier League game between Norwich and Liverpool will be also shown in the clubhouse straight after the game for anyone who wants to stay for a chat while watching football in a slightly warmer, cosier setting.
City of Liverpool’s game against Brighouse Town takes place tomorrow (Saturday) at the Berry Street Garage Stadium, L30 1NY. Kick-off is at 3pm and prices are £8 for adults, £4 for concessions and free for U16s.
For more information on Chasing the Stigma visit their online resource, the Hub of Hope. If anyone is struggling they can access the app or visit hubofhope.co.uk to find local and national support.
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