Official Everton Club Partner StubHub marked Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May) with a special mental health training day, ‘MindFairGame’, to complement Everton’s award-winning work in this field.
A mental health-themed event was held at USM Finch Farm for several of the Club’s Academy players and was hosted by former Toffees midfielder Leon Osman. Leon shared some of his personal experiences as a young player, with the Academy boys also hearing from the PFA’s Director of Player Welfare Michael Bennett and Mind charity ambassador Matt Johnson.
The session finished with a training session led by the Club’s mental health charity partner Chasing the Stigma, which gave the youngsters the opportunity to learn more about the importance of looking after their mental health and where to signpost people if they need support.
The training day set out to tackle the stigma, and encourage young men to talk openly about mental health from an early age.
The MindFairGame event aimed to communicate to young player and young people that speaking up is a strength, not a weakness.
Last year, Everton launched a new mental health-focussed fundraising campaign to raise funds to build a permanent purpose-built facility, called The People’s Place, in the shadows of Goodison Park.
As part of The People’s Place campaign, the Club also made a commitment to equip all of its staff with an understanding of mental health through accredited training delivered by Chasing the Stigma.
At a recent awareness event, first-team manager Marco Silva, Director of Football Marcel Brands, Everton CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Club captain Phil Jagielka and the Academy's Under-14 team joined the many Everton staff who have undertaken the training.
Leon Osman said: “An event like MindFairGame by Stubhub is so important in getting young people to talk about mental health, helping signpost to these young Blues to where they can find support. Everton and Everton in the Community have been at the forefront of mental health provision for more than a decade, providing life-changing and life-saving support to thousands of people across Merseyside.
“When I was playing, I felt that there was a stigma attached to saying how I felt emotionally, and that just shouldn’t be the case. Thankfully, that isn’t the case in youth football these days.
“I want everyone to be able to talk openly about their feelings and I’d really encourage everyone to take a moment to talk about their mental health with their mates, parents, coaches or teammates.
“The key must be to educate people from an early age so that it becomes a natural process.
“Even if you're in a good place now, at some point you are going to need the tools to get past the difficult times that arise in everyone's lives.”
StubHub’s UK country manager, Wayne Grierson, added: “At StubHub, we’re proud of the work Everton does in this area and it’s a pleasure to host the MindFairGame event in conjunction with the Club.
"Everton is a football club devoted to helping its community, putting its fans first and raising important issues around mental health awareness in the world of sport and beyond.”