Sunderland fan Scott Thirlwell wants to use his own mental health battle as a means to inspire others to speak up and share their troubles.
The 31-year-old reached out to the Foundation of Light when he felt he was struggling to cope after being made redundant.
Scott was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) during his teen years, when he became paranoid about his health and made repeated trips to the doctor and dentist.
He recognised the signs after being out of work for two months, with no routine and no social life as he’d been so used to the nightshift lifestyle.
With the support of the football club he plays for, Washington Athletic FC, he and his team mates signed up to Be a Game Changer, a mental health programme provided by the Foundation of Light
Tailored sessions highlighted the importance of encouraging each other to talk openly about mental health and provided tips on how to improve physical and mental well-being in order to look after each other more effectively.
“I knew I needed to speak to someone and share how I was feeling,” Scott admitted. “The club chairman understood how important it was for all the players and coaches to be involved too, so the Be a Game Changer programme was perfect as it broke down barriers and made everyone feel much more comfortable.”
“Mental health issues affect people of all ages and the coaches who work with kids are now better equipped to look for any signs or notice any changes in behaviour and offer support,” he added.
Not only has Be a Game Changer helped Scott with his own experiences, but he also now wants to be an advocate for the programme and encourage others to get involved and help eradicate the stigma associated with mental health:
“I want to break down barriers; it’s terrifying to hear how many people suffer in silence; they need to know it’s okay to talk about their emotions and that opening up is the best thing to do.”
Senior committee members at Washington Athletic FC have now introduced mandatory health and well-being sessions for coaches with the skills are transferable beyond football, there’s also literature available to offer further support, thanks to Scott’s passion for the programme:
“The Foundation and football have helped me massively; I appreciate how it has the power to help others – in dark times it’s offered me an outlet and I’m lucky to have the support of those around me.”
If you would like to know more about the Be A Game Changer programme and how we could support your organisation with mental health workshops email: firstname.lastname@example.org
25 May 2021