A ‘silent’ football match, created to highlight the importance of talking about our mental health, was recently played out at Powerleague’s Shoreditch site.
Along with Street Soccer London and suicide prevention charity, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), Powerleague launched the Play to Talk silent 5-a-side match to show the power of communication, and how football can be a vital tool in breaking down barriers to tough conversations.
David Duke MBE, Founder and CEO at Street Soccer, stressed the need to treat psychological struggles the same way as physical ones.
“If you were struggling with your knee or hamstring, would you let your teammates know about it? It is just as important to talk to your teammates about your mental health as much as your physical health.”
More than 40 players took part in the game, with the first half being played out in silence. In the second half, participants could speak to their teammates again.
Also present was former player-turned-pundit, Paul Merson, who has spoken openly about his own mental health and the difficult periods he’s endured.
“Having taken part today, I know the Play To Talk event was really powerful.” He said.
“Playing football in silence is hard, it’s frustrating and it feels lonely. I think this experience mirrored what it can feel like in day-to-day life when we bottle up our feelings and worries. Talking to somebody helps.”
There are 18 deaths by suicide every day in the UK. 75% of those are male, and suicide remains the single biggest killer of men under 45.
Football for so many is a safe-haven and a place where vital relationships can be formed. Play To Talk aims to encourage a culture in which people feel they can openly ask for help, whether it be their teammate or someone beyond the football pitch.
Christian Rose, CEO at Powerleague explained: “We’ve seen first-hand how much people have missed playing. We talk to our customers and hear how issues such as loneliness and isolation have been helped by the return of outdoor sports. Powerleague is committed to supporting customers and staff in maintaining their mental health as much as their physical health.
“We’re currently in the process of providing mental health training to all staff across Powerleague.”
Simon Gunning, CEO at CALM said: ‘With footy back on the menu now Government restrictions have been lifted, we know that across the country at small-sided football venues there will still be those rivalries, those dodgy pass backs and those 50-50 chances, but whether it’s been a hard week or results aren’t going so well on the pitch, it is important that teams pull together and look out for one another, both on and off the pitch.”
If you, or anyone you know is struggling with their mental health, below is a list of organisations which can help:
Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm)
A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably. A charity providing a mental health helpline and webchat.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)
Men’s Health Forum
24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.
Mental Health Foundation
Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Offers a course to help overcome your phobia or OCD.
Phone: 0300 772 9844 (daily, 10am to 10pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider’s Access Charge
Support for people with OCD. Includes information on treatment and online resources.
Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider’s Access Charge
A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.
Phone: 0333 212 7890 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
Young suicide prevention society.
Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 (9am to midnight, every day of the year)
Rethink Mental Illness
Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm)
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers.
Textcare: comfort and care via text message, sent when the person needs it most: www.sane.org.uk/textcare
Peer support forum: www.sane.org.uk/supportforum
Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.
Phone: Parents’ helpline 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm)