Football match raises mental health awareness

The Time to Change photo booth
The Time to Change photo booth

Despite lashing rain, the second annual Mental Health Awareness Day at The Valley, home of Charlton Athletic Football Club, was a great success.

Hosted by Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) and supported by national anti-stigma organisation Time to Change, the day offered fans fun activities including a keepy-uppy competition (keeping the ball in the air for as long as possible) and a non-contact boxing session. Supporters were also encouraged to use various whacky props and have their photo taken in the Time to Change photo booth. They then supported the awareness day by tweeting the hash tag #cafctimetochange.

Around 150 staff and service users from both Oxleas and Kent and Medway NHS Trust attended Charlton's match against Birmingham City. All of these are involved in CACT's project work either as beneficiaries or, like our early intervention in psychosis teams, by working in partnership with CACT to deliver their programmes.

Positive mental health messages were shown on the big screen throughout the fixture and, at half time, we presented a certificate to CACT for the work they are doing with our teams. Fans were also given an insight into the work the teams do by a short DVD that was also played at half time.

Simon Sherring, Manager, Bromley, Greenwich and Bexley early intervention in psychosis teams, said: "All the teams are very proud of our partnership with CACT and Charlton Athletic Football Club and this was a great opportunity to reach out to so many members of our local community. We know that the programme has a profound and positive effect on the recovery of the people who use our services and we are delighted and thankful that our Board has agreed to fund it for a further two years."

Carl Krauhaus, CACT's Head of Disability and Mental Health, said: "Our intention for the day was to raise awareness and spark positive conversations around mental health. With the help of Time to Change, Oxleas and Kent and Medway, we definitely achieved that. We are a club that takes our responsibility seriously and understands that we have a huge role to play in helping to not only educate people about mental health, but to continue to challenge discrimination through the projects we run and the initiatives we undertake."

Jenny Taylor, Head of the Children and Young People's Programme at Time to Change, said "Many people we work with say it is the fear of stigma that's harder to deal with than the mental health problem itself."

The match was a 1-1 draw. You can watch a short video showcasing the day on YouTube.

Published on 9th October 2014