OFFICIAL club partner StubHub marked Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 13- Sunday 19 May) with a special mental health training day – ‘MindFairGame’.
The event was held at USM Finch Farm for some of the club’s academy players and hosted by Leon Osman.
At the event, Leon shared some of his personal experiences as a young player, with the academy boys also hearing from the PFA’s Director of Player Welfare Michael Bennett and Mind charity ambassador Matt Johnson. The session finished with a mental health awareness training session led by ‘Chasing the Stigma’ which gave the youngsters the opportunity to learn more about the importance of looking after their mental health and where to signpost people if they need support.
The MindFairGame event aimed to communicate to young players and young people that speaking up about mental health is a strength, not a weakness.
Last year, Everton launched a new mental health focused fundraising campaign to raise funds to build a permanent facility – called ‘The People’s Place’ – in the shadows of Goodison Park.
As part of ‘The People’s Place’ campaign, the club has also made a commitment to equip all of its staff with an understanding of mental health through accredited training delivered by ‘Chasing the Stigma’ and in undertaking the training at the recent mental health awareness event, the Academy’s Under 14s joined Manager Marco Silva, Director of Football Marcel Brands, Everton CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale and Phil Jagielka in being among the many staff who have already received the training.
Leon Osman said: “An event like MindFairGame by Stubhub is so important in getting young people to talk about mental health, helping signpost to these young Blues where they can find support.
“Everton and Everton in the Community have been at the forefront of mental health provision for more than a decade, providing life-changing and life-saving support to thousands of people across Merseyside.
“When I was playing, I felt that there was a stigma attached to saying how I felt emotionally, and that just shouldn’t be the case. Thankfully, that isn’t the case in youth football these days.
“I want everyone to be able to talk openly about their feelings and I’d really encourage everyone to take a moment to talk about their mental health with their mates, parents, coaches or teammates.
“The key must be to educate people from an early age so that it becomes a natural process.
“Even if you’re in a good place now, at some point you are going to need the tools to get past the difficult times that arise in everyone’s lives.”
StubHub’s UK Country Manager Wayne Grierson added: “At StubHub, we’re proud of the work Everton does in this area and it’s a pleasure to host the MindFairGame event in conjunction with the Club. It’s a football club that is devoted to helping its community, putting its fans first and raising important issues around mental health awareness in the world of sport and beyond.”