It’s Okay Not to be Okay – Time to talk on World Mental Health Day

The Argyle Community Trust is proud to be the official charity for Plymouth Argyle Football Club.

Argyle Community Trust uses the prestige of football and the reach of the club to inspire, engage and help people of all ages, achieve their full potential. Argyle Community Trust has a clear vision, along with our national partners, to be an active, inspirational and inclusive community hub for the South West region. We aim to have a positive impact on a range of groups within society and to provide the local community with the opportunity to explore their full potential, improve their life chances and aspirations through the power of football and activity.

We are hugely proud to say we have changed lives and inspired people over the past 20 years and envisage this to continue for many years to come. We offer a large range of activities and programmes from football to nationally recognised educational qualifications, from health to social action and disability.

The Health and Disability remit at the Community Trust is privileged to work with some of the most diverse and contrasting groups of people across Devon and Cornwall in a capacity of physical activity and social engagement.

Among some of the admirable programmes we have implemented and delivered on are our Mental Health provisions. The high prevalence of mental health challenges among males is becoming more common knowledge, and with that, the stigma of talking to someone about it is shrinking. These are both hugely positive trends.

ACT has worked in partnership with the NHS primary care trust STEPS to develop a programme called ‘It’s a Goal’. It’s a Goal has been running for over 10 years now and has had a hugely positive impact on the people who have taken advantage of the programme. People who have a certain mental health condition can work in a comfortable group setting to discuss real issues and relate them to football. The psychoeducational group therapy is coupled with physical activity, in this case, 5 aside football led by Argyle Community Trust staff. It is the programme aim that people who attend can become self-reliant and effectively manage adverse mental health conditions after attending for a certain period, however the physical activity part of the sessions is ongoing and will always be available.

The effectiveness of engaging in social situations to discuss issues and taking part in physical activity are proven to help alleviate symptoms of adverse mental health. We have invested considerable time and resources to upskilling our staff so that they are best equipped to work with people who often will lack the confidence to engage in these types of programmes.

The It’s a Goal programme has evolved to be well recognised across the city and regional area of England. People who attend the programme have represented to the Community trust and PAFC at mental health football tournaments in the region, competing against other club’s programmes such as Exeter City and Swindon Town. Doing so isn’t just an opportunity for people to put on a green shirt and play football, but also a huge progression in social wellbeing by working with and against people from different backgrounds. Whilst It’s a Goal is primarily a project tailored to improve people Mental Health condition a number of other projects within the Health and Disability remit also contribute to this area of health and wellbeing. We operate weight loss football leagues which improve people a person’s self esteem, we work with people who have early onset dementia at our football café and of course, we engage with adults and children with disabilities to improve their activity levels. All of the mentioned are significant in improving a person’s overall health and wellbeing.

As part of World Mental Health Day on October 10 Lead Disability Coach Mickey McCloskey, along with Plymouth Argyle players Conor Grant and Jamie Ness opened up to talk about mental health and the importance of having someone to talk to, Jamie Ness stated:

“It was only when I moved down to Plymouth that I realised the impact the Club and Trust has on the local community. You see the work they do and it’s fantastic, the more provisions they offer and engagement the better – it’s a real lift to the City. I became involved with the mental health campaigns and provisions because I’ve had personal experience with managing it myself.

My wife was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder three years ago and it has been really eye-opening, especially as there’s more awareness with mental health worldwide and understanding the different degrees people can suffer from. It makes me realise how precious your mental health is and anything we can do to improve it, the better. If it takes me just talking it about it to help encourage someone to see a Doctor, councilor or attend a Trust provision then that’s worthwhile.

They say talking is a great way of dealing with mental health issues, it’s not so easy for people to do that, so the idea of attending a football session like It’s A Goal or Walking Football is brilliant – everyone’s there because they love the game and through the support system it offers, they can also work on their mental health as well as physical. Lots of professional footballers have come out to talk about their struggles with mental health and they all seem to say the say thing, when they’re playing football all their issues seem to disappear as they’re outside and very much in the present.”

Videos can be found on the PAFC YouTube channel.

The players also took part in a discussion and activity with the Trust and MalesAllowed (a charity set up for men to meet and socialise to combat mental health problems), where they explored the different types of problems people may encounter and how in some cases you can never tell is someone may be struggling. It was all to highlight how mental health problems can affect anyone, any day of the year, and how by talking about it and showing your support for better mental health people may start looking after their own wellbeing.

Mental health is just like our physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it. We all need to take care of our mental health and wellbeing whether we have a mental health problem or not.

Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Mental wellbeing describes how you are feeling and how well you can cope with day-to-day life. It can change from moment to moment, day to day, month to month or year to year. Getting active is one way of talking this, find out more by visiting our Health and Wellbeing page.

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