Farsley Celtic lead the way in supporting mental health on and off the pitch

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Skipper Chris Atkinson fights for the ball at The Citadel. Photo: John McEvoy

Farsley Celtic is the first football club in England to equip both the boardroom and changing rooms with several Mental Health First Aiders.

The volunteers will support everyone connected with the club about mental health.  

In a groundbreaking initiative, Farsley Celtic, of the Vanarama National League North, has partnered with The National League/West Riding FA and The Football Mental Health Alliance to create a supportive and safe environment for all. 

Chairman Paul Barthorpe, vice-chairman Josh Greaves, men’s captain Chris Atkinson and women’s captain Lauren Rigby all completed mental health first aid (MHFA) training.

MHFA is a programme that helps to educate people on how to identify and assist someone who is suffering from a mental health or drug use condition. 

The training is intended to assist people in recognising early warning signs of mental health conditions, providing initial assistance and support to someone in difficulty and helping to connect them to external support. 

Paul Barthorpe, Chairman at Farsley Celtic said: “Understanding the crucial role that mental health plays in the overall well-being and performance of our community, Farsley Celtic is committed to being at the forefront of mental health initiatives in football. 

“This collaboration with West Riding FA and The Football Mental Health Alliance will enable us to recognise, understand, assist and signpost individuals who may be experiencing mental health concerns. One in four of us will experience mental health difficulties each year and with this, it is important that we all take time to look after ourselves and our mental health. 

“MHFA training allows everyone attached to our club to know that there are five individuals whom they can approach to discuss mental health, enabling more people to spot potential signs of mental health conditions. It also equips our leaders in the dressing rooms to support their teammates with their mental health and signpost them where appropriate.”

The Citadel.

Danny Matharu, Founder of The Football Mental Health Alliance said: “We are proud to be working with Farsley Celtic. 

“From our research, they are the first ever non-league or professional club to have mental health first aiders in both their dressing room and boardroom. Their engagement in MHFA demonstrates their unwavering commitment to the mental health of everyone involved in their Club. 

“This partnership represents a significant stride towards our collective goal of having at least one person in every football club mental health first aid trained.   

“The benefits to having this training are numerous. MHFA can help to promote the importance of mental health and reduce the stigma around seeking help for mental health conditions. This can encourage people to speak up and seek help if they or anyone they know, are experiencing mental health challenges. This can lead to better overall mental health and well-being within the club, helping to create a more supportive and inclusive culture. 

“Having people in the boardroom and on the pitch trained in mental health will enable positive messages around mental health to cascade down into their junior teams and across into the stands and the local community.”

MHFA empowers people to identify early signs of mental health conditions, it can lead to enhanced player performance, more resilient teams and improved communication as well as better safety, welfare and inclusion.   

Mental Health First Aid Training is for anyone. The skills acquired through MHFA training are valuable and transferable, promoting well-being and mental health support in various aspects of life. 

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