Following the delivery of this season’s final block of mental health drop in sessions for the local community at the Abbey Stadium yesterday evening, Cambridge United will now review how we can continue to strengthen our aspiration to be a mentally healthy football club.
In July 2018 the club set out its plan of action to take a lead within professional football on the topic of mental health. Cambridge United’s plan of action has primarily included the delivery of the following four initiatives:
1) Mental Health First Aid Training
All coaches from the first team down to the Academy have received 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 appointed Mental Health Champions for both the men’s and women’s first team squads. David Forde and Vicky Neal agreed to take on this role with Sam Squire as the Academy Champion. They have been actively promoting positive mental health within the Club and amongst the playing staff in particular, encouraging greater conversation about an issue that affects every one of us.
Meanwhile, their fellow first team players have also been forthcoming in discussing the importance of mental health through initiatives such as the ‘Time to Talk’ campaign in February which saw Cambridge United release four videos of players and staff having conversations about their own experience of mental health.
3) ‘Mind Your Head’ School Programme
The Club, through the Community Trust, expanded the ‘Mind Your Head’ school programme which has been delivered throughout the academic school year in ten local secondary schools. In March the scheme, aimed at 11-14 year olds and helps to promote positive mental health through the power of sport, reached its 1,000th participant.
4) Club / Community Mental Health Drop In sessions
The Club, through the Trust, held its last of four blocks of mental health drop in sessions at the Abbey Stadium in partnership with trained psychologists from Cambridgeshire County Council yesterday. These aimed to encourage people who might not usually seek help to do so by accessing services based at Cambridge United.
Cambridge United has also been actively supporting the STOP Suicide campaign led by Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and South Lincolnshire (CPSL) Mind in partnership with local NHS teams.
The plan has been recognised by both the EFL and their charity partner MIND, with CEO Paul Farmer praising the Club’s approach: “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. I’m delighted to see the CUFC approach in the club and community taking shape.”
Cambridge United are proud to be leading on the discussion of mental health and will now conduct a review as we reach the conclusion of the first year as a mentally healthy football club, in order to further develop the plan of action.