Cambridge United today released four short films to mark Time To Talk Day 2019 (Thursday 7th February) showing conversations between players and staff discussing mental health in football.
The players featured in the films include Club mental health ambassadors David Forde, Sam Squire and Vicky Neal as well as first team captains Gary Deegan and Kayleigh Burt. The films are designed to show the value of talking and supporting one another to help encourage others to do the same.
The films form part of Cambridge United’s programme to be a ‘mentally health football club’ which has included Mental Health First Aid Training by MIND for the majority of the Club’s coaching staff. The English Football League announced their On Your Side partnership with MIND at the start of the 2018/19 season.
The Club, through its Community Trust, is delivering the ‘Mind Your Head’ Programme in local secondary schools in Cambridge to promote positive mental health - with players taking an active role in talking about the pressures of dealing with social media for example. The programme was recently praised in a parliamentary report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood. The report highlighted Mind Your Head as “an example of a successful practice based evidence programme that is certainly capable of successful adoption and replication in other school settings.”
The club is also partnering with Cambridgeshire County Council to provide mental health drop-ins at the Abbey Stadium. So far 15 families have received support through these drop-ins and the next two sessions, to be held in March and May, are fully subscribed.
Paul Farmer, CEO of MIND, praised the Club’s approach. He said: “It’s great to see Cambridge United taking such a strong leadership position in putting mental health at the heart of football. Their ambition to be a mentally healthy club, supported by their practical action plan, is a model for the game. Mind's partnership with the EFL is seeing clubs across the country starting to take action, working together with local Minds. Coaches play such an important role at all levels, so equipping them to understand and act is really important. I’m delighted to see the CUFC approach in the club and community taking shape.”
Godric Smith, CUFC Director, said: “We all have mental health and we all experience the ups and downs of life, some more acutely than others. Football players are no different so it is great to see the players and staff at the Club setting such a positive example by opening up themselves and encouraging people to talk. Support makes us all stronger whoever we are. It is also very flattering that the Club’s programme to be a ‘mentally healthy club’ is receiving national recognition. This is testament to the hard work of many people at the Club and the Trust who have pioneered the programme over the last two years.”