Cambridge United today set out an action plan to improve mental health provision at the Club and within the wider Cambridge community, building on initiatives piloted during last season.
It is the Club’s ambition to play a leadership role on the issue within football more widely as a ‘mentally healthy’ club.
Cambridge United ‘Mentally Healthy’ Plan from the start of the 18/19 season includes
1) Mental Health First Aid Training
All coaches from the first team down will receive mental health first aid training - to help support players at all ages at times of stress but also to promote greater personal resilience and positive mental health
2) First Team and Academy ‘Mental Health Champions’
The Club is appointing Mental Health Champions for both the men’s and women’s first team squads. David Forde and Vicky Neal have agreed to take on this role with Sam Squire as the Academy Champion. They will be actively promoting positive mental health within the Club and amongst the playing staff in particular, encouraging greater conversation about an issue that affects everyone of us.
3) ‘Mind Your Head’ School Programme
The Club, through the Community Trust, will expand the ‘Mind Your Head’ school programme to run throughout the coming academic year in 10 schools covering around 1,000 students aged 11-14. The programme helps promote positive mental health through the power of sport. We will give more details on the programme shortly.
4) Club / Community Mental Health Drop In sessions
The Club, through the Trust, has started to hold mental health drop in sessions at the Abbey Stadium in partnership with trained psychologists from Cambridgeshire County Council. These aim to encourage people who might not usually seek help to do so by accessing services based at Cambridge United. They will run throughout the coming season. The Club has been actively supporting the STOP Suicide campaign led by Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and South Lincolnshire (CPSL) Mind in partnership with local NHS teams over recent months.
Community Trust Chairman Graham Daniels said:
“There is wide recognition now of the need to promote positive mental health just as much as physical health in professional sport. Several of our former players have spoken eloquently of the challenges they have faced and the dark times they have gone through.
“Cambridge United wants to take a leadership position on the issue at the Club and offer more support. This plan builds on a lot of great work done last season on the issue - at the Club and in the community. Taken together it can help us become a ‘mentally healthy’ football club and hopefully contribute to future success on and off the pitch. We are very grateful to Inc who have helped drive and support this project from the start.”
Head Coach Joe Dunne said:
“This is a very positive initiative which everyone at the Club is right behind. Every single one of us has mental health. We can all have good days and bad days. In professional sport the mental challenges can often be great - given the pressures of results and performance. I want us to give even more support to players and encourage everyone at the Club to talk more openly about how they are feeling as we all stand to benefit as a result.”
David Forde said:
“I was very pleased to be asked to become the First Team Mental Health Champion and it is great to see the Club taking a lead on the issue. I have spoken about the importance of mental health a lot in the past. I know how much it matters to all of us and I look forward to helping wherever I can during the coming season.”
Sam Squire said:
“I have really enjoyed working with local schools over the last year as part of the ‘Mind Your Head’ community initiative. It is great it is continuing for another year. I understand the pressures young people can face - particularly in the social media age - and this programme is helping them develop greater personal resilience to deal with them. I also look forward to leading on the issue with the some of the younger players at the Club.”
Vicky Neal said:
“The CUFC women’s team is right behind this important programme. If we are as mentally fit as possible then that can only help our performance on the pitch.”