Cambridge United have established a new secondary school mental health project to improve well-being and help young people deal better with stress and anxiety. The ‘Mind Your Head’ pilot has been running since January 2018 in 5 central Cambridge secondary schools and will have reached 600 young people by the end of this summer term. It is part of the Club’s wider commitment to promoting positive mental health at the Club and in the community. The Club is announcing the project to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week.
‘Mind Your Head’ is delivered through Cambridge United Community Trust in partnership with Cambridge youth mental-health charity Centre 33. The programme provides lessons that destigmatize mental health, educate young people about how to deal with stress and also encourage young people to discuss how social media can both positively and negatively affect their well-being. The programme uses the brand of Cambridge United as well as video content and lesson visits from footballers as part of the programme. The 'Mind Your Head’ Programme was initiated and funded by Inc., a long-term club sponsor, together with two private donors
Josh Turner, one of the pupils taking part from Trumpington Community College said: “Footballers coming in to tell us about mental health is actually quite profound because they are people that children look up to and they are some people’s idols. Them telling us that they sometimes can struggle with mental health is good to listen to and good for our own understanding.”
Sam Squire, a Cambridge United scholar who has been actively involved at schools said, “It’s important for Cambridge United to focus on mental health in schools as that’s when issues such as social media can challenge young people’s confidence and resilience. As a football club we can hopefully use our respected position in society to help destigmatize mental health and promote positive mental health.
Dickon Bevington, Medical Director at the Anna Freud Centre and a Consultant Psychiatrist for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust said: “In sport it is quite 'normal' to talk about strains and fractures to bones and ligaments, but if we can make it just as normal to talk about the strains and fractures that can happen in anyone's mind, this will open the door to getting earlier help for many young people, protecting them against developing more serious conditions. I applaud Cambridge United and its energetic campaign to achieve this. There is no health without mental health, and no place where it isn't appropriate to think about our thinking and our feelings; this is how we create true and winning performance, both on and off the pitch, and all credit to the players and management at the club who have backed this project with such enthusiasm and courage.”
Graham Daniels, Director of Football at Cambridge United and Chair of Cambridge United Community Trust said: “We want Cambridge United to take a leadership position on mental health within the game and within our community. Everyone has mental health. We can all have our ups and downs. We believe it is particularly important to help equip young people with the skills to deal with the challenges they inevitably face as they grow up. It all forms part of our wider effort as a Club to show the positive power of football throughout the community."