To mark the Premier League’s mental health campaign ‘Inside Matters’, we’re taking a look at how we aim to promote positive mental health for our participants and staff.

The ‘Inside Matters’ campaign will see the Premier League and its clubs reaffirm their commitment to supporting the mental health of players, fans, and their communities. Keep an eye out on their channels for information on their partnership with Shout, which has been set up to encourage fans that are struggling with their mental health, to text Team Talk to 85258 to receive help via Shout’s free 24/7 text messaging support service.

This campaign comes ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (15-21 May), the theme for which is anxiety. There are a couple of resources below to help with anyone who may be struggling.

At Palace for Life, we take promoting positive mental health really seriously. It’s at the core of everything we do, and we ensure that our staff and participants receive the support they need no matter their background or what their situation is.

An example is our Advantage Mentoring programme, which supports young people between the ages of 14 and 21 who are experiencing mental health concerns. It’s led by the young person and their mentor, and they chat about anything the young person wants to talk about, whether it’s personal, educational, social, employment-related, or related to their well-being. This programme was set up in partnership with professional football clubs and the NHS, and it has helped young people like Ted find their passion!

Sarah (Targeted Intervention Manager), Ted (Advantage mentee) and his Dad

It’s essential that our staff feel supported too, so we have several initiatives in place to make sure they’re looked after. We have a Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Steering Group that meets monthly to identify ways to develop and champion well-being initiatives offered by the Foundation, as well as a range of Mental Health First Aiders, who are on-hand to listen to colleagues’ mental health concerns and signpost them to helpful resources and services.

We also provide external clinical support for staff who work with young people who may have complex issues, which can take its toll. We offer external support so that our staff can feel like they can talk to someone neutral, or to offload and feel listened to. In an interview with Levelling the Playing Field, our Targeted Intervention Manager Sarah Hoddy spoke about the importance of feeling supported who are dealing with young people with a range of different issues:

“It’s a very difficult job, so you need to be able to say, ‘I’m having a bad day, can I talk to you about it?’ That’s the environment I’m trying to foster.

“The idea is that staff can offload to someone who is ‘neutral’ and not part of our internal staff team, so they can talk about the impact it’s having on them,” says Sarah. ”A particular case may have triggered their own issues or they may simply need to unburden themselves.”

“We’ve encouraged a culture where it’s acknowledged that staff are dealing with a lot of stuff, and to let us know when the pile gets too high. We let them know they are appreciated.  

“It’s for them to use however they want to. It’s to support staff to get the best out of young people but also the best out of themselves.” 

Team Mates is another programme we offer in schools to help young people who may be at risk of developing poor mental health. It focuses on developing social skills and coping strategies to build up a protective barrier against potential mental health concerns. Students take part in games, worksheets, student-led discussions, and group activities to reflect on their own experiences and create positive coping strategies in a safe and comfortable environment.

Christian participating in his Team Mates session with his coach, Ross

We care about promoting positive mental health, and we want to make sure everyone feels supported and cared for. If you want to hear more about how we help young people, check out Christian’s story about developing his own coping strategies through the Team Mates programme.

It’s not only our Advantage and Team Mates programme that focuses on promoting positive mental health, all of our programmes are designed to improve the mental and physical well-being of local south Londoners – whether it be free football sessions, school work or mentoring – fostering a culture of promoting positive mental health goes into everything we do.

As Mental Health Awareness Week approaches, here are some useful resources on managing anxiety.

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