In May, we were delighted to be featured on the BBC's programme "A Royal Team Talk" with HRH the Duke of Cambridge coming to the Abbey to gather with Gareth Southgate, Thierry Henry, Peter Crouch, Danny Rose and Jermaine Jenas.
Inspired by the programme, David undertook a Mental First Aid course and we're delighted to recognise him as Community Hero of the Day for this effort. David also bid for the Gareth Southgate signed shirt and won!
The money raised will go towards our 'Mind Your Head' 6-week mental health education course in secondary schools. Cambridge United Community Trust are launching Mental Health Football Sessions in partnership with Mind CPSL.
For more information on mental health first aid courses or the football sessions: please visit www.cuctrust.co.uk
Why did you want to do this Mental Health First Aid course?
We all have challenges in life. Unfortunately, some can find those challenges difficult to come to terms with and need support.
As a Mental Health First Aider, you learn about how others may perceive their issues. They're not wrong in their eyes, they just see things differently. But you can help, just by recognising the signs and asking how they are. A kindly and supportive word may all that is needed to help.
The Mental Health First Aid course helps you do that and appreciate that some people perceive their situation differently to the way others may.
Undertaking the Mental Health First Aid course provided me with the tools and understanding necessary to provide that support in my role co-ordinating Occupational Health monitoring.
The MHFA course helps you to understand about how someone with poor mental health (not mental illness) sees the world, their world. It helps you learn how to support those who come to you for help. It helps you learn to spot the signs, for they are not always obvious.
What's the most important thing you took away from the course?
By far the most important thing I took away from the course is the importance of removing the stigma associated with poor mental health.
The stigma is the biggest barrier to getting people the help and support they need. They feel that no-one will listen, they feel that no-one will understand, they feel that they will lose their job, their home, their family. They often feel they have nowhere to turn, and often turn to despair.
But in supporting those with poor mental health, you could literally save their life
What role do you think football and football clubs can play in improving people's mental health?
Football, especially in the lower leagues is not about high levels of success and achievement, it is about community. It is a place where you can escape all the difficulties and challenges that face us from day to day. You can be with friends; and "friends" in this respect can be those whose names you don't even know; just familiar faces, enjoying the banter, and the sharing of the highs and lows that come with every game.
For those with poor mental health, that togetherness can bring with it a reassurance and comfort that you may not find elsewhere. For a few hours you don't have to be the parent, the worker, to boss, the partner, the carer. For a few hours you can be you. Whether it’s where you can laugh with others or share the disappointment of going 3 nil down at home, you're doing it together. Together with friends. Football can be that escape, that refuge for many.
Would you encourage others' to do a mental health first aid course?
Absolutely. Becoming a Mental Health First Aider is not becoming a counsellor. You don't need special skills or a raft of qualifications. You are not there to solve people's issues or worries.
Mental Health First Aid is about listening and supporting, letting people know that it is okay to share their feelings. Talking, listening, understanding, supporting: these are the four tools in the Mental Health First Aiders toolbox.
But remember, you don't have to do the course to provide support or a listening ear. Sometimes being there for someone is all that is needed to make a difference to that person.