On Time To Talk Day, Wycombe Wanderers are pleased to announce its support for Wycombe Mind at this Saturday's Championship fixture against Nottingham Forest at Adams Park (k.o. 3pm).
Together, the two bodies seek to raise awareness amongst football supporters about mental health and the work that the charity does to tackle mental health problems.
Wycombe Mind is the local branch of the national Mind charity, which holds a partnership with the EFL and its 72 clubs with the aim of bringing a lasting legacy around mental health in football.
Club representatives around Adams Park on the day of the game will be wearing the Wycombe Wanderers 'On Your Side' pin badge, and you can order yours and support the charity by visiting their online store here.
The club has a proud recent history of supporting local charities who specialise in supporting those with mental health struggles, and has hosted two Time To Change matchdays as well as the 'Anything But Blue' initiative for the Chiltern Samaritans last season.
What's more, its Sports & Education Trust runs a successful Keep Moving Forward programme to bring together local people for physical and educational sessions around improving their mental health, and hosted a virtual Team Talk session last month to kick off conversations around the topic.
It also ran a mental health first aid course in October, along with the Doorsteppers programme which invited people living on their own to arrange a socially distanced visit from the Trust for a friendly chat during lockdown.
Wycombe Mind - whose Facebook page can be found here - provides support for people in the local area who are experiencing distress with their mental health. They offer a variety of day services that help to provide people with group support as well as giving them the opportunity to participate in activities such as art and music therapy.
Throughout the second and third lockdown Wycombe Mind have been able to provide these services in person and were recently recognised as being one of the top local Mind branches for promoting equality and diversity.
Their Park Life project - which shares a name with the club's matchday programme - has been helping people to receive their daily exercise whilst in lockdown, as well as giving people the opportunity to take part in creative activities in the area, such as planting bulbs.
Since March 2020 they have also been providing a new service, Creative Outreach, which has been designed to help those who are struggling with their mental health during the Coronavirus pandemic. During this project Wycombe Mind have been delivering food and care packages, sourcing equipment for hobbies and providing weekly check-ins with people, either face to face or over the phone.
A spokesperson for the charity said: "Wycombe Mind have long been supporters of Wycombe Wanderers and we have attended many matches in the past! We are excited to see what the future holds for the club."
Mind’s own research shows that over half of people (56 per cent) feel that football fans find it easier to show their emotions at football matches than at any other time. Despite this the charity also knows that many fans, particularly men, are struggling in silence for fear of opening up about their mental health.
This is likely to have been made all the worse by the impact of the pandemic. Mind’s most recent research found that more than half of adults and two-thirds of young people saying their mental health got worse during the first lockdown.
The charity hopes mental health-themed match days like this will begin to open up the conversation among football fans about their mental health, as well as raising awareness about the support Mind offers at this difficult time.
Mind’s national charity partnership with the EFL launched at the start of the 2018/19 season and has since been extended to run until the end of the 2021/22 season. Working with all 72 EFL clubs across the country it aims to:
- raise awareness about mental health with fans, clubs and staff
- raise funds to deliver life-changing support
- help improve the approach to mental health in football working with other partners in the game.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “Every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem. That could be one person in every family, hundreds of football players and many thousands of football fans.
"We know that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on people’s mental health, not least fans, who have been missing the camaraderie and community spirit that comes with attending match days.
"That’s why it’s more important than ever that we remind fans of the support available to them on their doorstep and to let them know they don’t have to face mental health problems alone.
“We are proud to be working in partnership with all 72 clubs in the EFL, as part of our charity partnership with them, to be real game-changers in the way football tackles mental health. We hope that events like our match day with MK Dons will reach out to fans and let them know that whoever you support, Mind supports you.”
For more information about Mind’s partnership with the EFL and wider work in football visit mind.org.uk/football