08 June 2020
Professional footballers and comedian help mental health trust provide boost for patients during COVID-19 pandemic
Staying connected is one of the Five Ways to Wellbeing and is an
important way to look after your mental health, particularly during
the COVID-19 pandemic.
This Men's Health Week (Monday 15th to Sunday
21st June) Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership
(AWP) NHS Trust is highlighting the importance of keeping in touch
with friends and family during this time.
The Trust's Early Intervention in Psychosis Team in South
Gloucestershire, which until lockdown began was running weekly
football sessions as part of its Recovery Through Sport programme,
has enlisted the help of Bristol comedian Russell Howard and a
number of professional and former sporting stars as part of its
work to keep in touch with the group.
The Trust has invited a number of celebrities including former
England football players Shaun Wright-Phillips and Carlton Cole,
Walsall Footballer Club player James Clarke, former premier league
footballer and professional boxer Leon McKenzie and West Ham lady's
captain Gilly Flaherty, and Paralympian Lauren Steadman to take
part in its weekly digital catch up sessions with the Recovery
Through Sport group.
They have been talking to the group about their own mental
health and wellbeing, and answering questions from the Recovery
Through Sport group members.
Mental Health Worker, Jacob Kelly, who runs the Recovery Through
Sport sessions at AWP, said: "We were very aware that many of the
people who were attending the football sessions on a weekly basis
were going to find lockdown and isolating difficult. Many of our
attendees rely on the group sessions for social interaction and we
knew that without it they would feel even more isolated than usual.
We contacted the sporting stars and asked if they'd be happy to
join the sessions and talk to the group about their experiences of
mental health and wellbeing . Never did I imagine that I would
secure so many high profile guests to take part."
The Recovery Through Sport sessions were set up to improve the
physical and mental wellbeing of people with mental health
conditions. Before lockdown the group had been meeting weekly to
play football, make contact with others and talk about their mental
Josh, who attends the Recovery Through Sport
sessions, said: "I have found the RTS digital sessions very helpful
and enjoyable. It has been interesting to hear from both male and
female professional footballers. They have talked about their
stories and experiences and also how they have managed difficulties
in terms of their own mental health. Overall I feel like the
sessions are having a positive effect on me. Sometimes I can feel
anxious about joining the chat initially but once the sessions are
up and running I feel fine. When it is finished, I am always
pleased that I have done it and I always feel like my mood has been
lifted. Not only does it have a good effect on my mood, but I have
also noticed that I now look forward to when the next session is. I
therefore feel like the sessions are having a really positive
effect on my mental health and they are helping me get through this
Jacob continued: "This Men's Health Week we are encouraging men
who may be struggling with their mental health to connect with
someone and have a conversation about how they are feeling. We'd
also encourage women who are worried about their male friends,
family and loved ones to start a conversation about mental health,
it might just save a life."
The weekly sessions also provide the chance for AWP staff to
check in with the Recovery Through Sport group members and to
provide support where needed.
The five ways to wellbeing are:
- Give to
attention to the present moment (mindfulness)
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