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Scholars attend mental health workshop

22 November 2017

Teenagers from Foundation of Light’s Shildon Football Scholarship were invited to attend a workshop as part of a study into the pressures placed on the mental health and wellbeing of young players in elite-level football academies.

The event, delivered by Assistant Professor in Management and Marketing at Durham Business School Neil Graney, welcomed the scholars and their coaches to the university as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Festival of Social Science.

Aimed at 16-18 year olds, the session began with the group of first year scholars sharing their understanding of mental health before challenging its stigmas and learning how to recognise, report and manage issues associated with mental health and well-being.

The team took part in interactive discussions to highlight the importance of emotional and social intelligence as well as developing and maintaining positive social relationships inside and outside of football.

Coach Alan Young said: “The workshop gave us a good insight to mental health helped our players to begin the process of understanding mental health.

“We’re keen to help these youngsters gain and maintain a high level of health overall and their mental health is a huge part of this.

“The workshop was a great eye opener for some of the players and hopefully they’ll have taken a lot from it that they’ll be able to put into use in the future.”

We looked at what mental health is, how many people have mental health issues and why there are stigmas attached to mental health.

We learned that a lot of people have undiagnosed mental health problems and they are scared to open up and ask for help because of this.

The workshop gave me a wider understanding of poor mental health and the awareness to be able to recognise some of its signs.

Callum Hodgson, Foundation of Light Shildon Scholar

“The workshop was very well received by the scholars and their coaches,” added Neil. “It was a great opportunity for me to share the early research for my PhD proposal with a group of young footballers.

“We’ve built a good relationship with the Foundation of Light and will be looking to deliver this to future cohorts of the Scholarship programme as well as to university-level and elite-level athletes in other sports.”

The ESRC Festival of Social Sciences began in 2002 and is designed to increase awareness of the social sciences among non-academics and young people, and their benefits to the wellbeing and the economy of UK society.

Neil’s PHD proposal focuses upon the management of mental health and psychological wellbeing in elite level football academies, with previous research indicating players suffer from a spectrum of conditions including low self-esteem/confidence, anger, substance misuse, stress anxiety and depression.

Foundation of Light’s Football Scholarship gives 16-18 year olds the opportunity to represent Sunderland AFC and gain nationally recognised qualifications through an intensive football and education programme.

Players have the opportunity to be recruited by professional and semi-professional football clubs; go on to higher education at home or abroad as well as pursuing careers in coaching, sports science, sports journalism or physiotherapy.

For more information about the Football Scholarship programme, email wayne.walls@foundationoflight.co.uk or call 0191 5515067.

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