The project is being announced to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day, with the purpose of the new project being to raise awareness of mental health through a range of targeted events, sessions and training. It is hoped that these joint activities will inspire conversation and action by fans to remove the stigma around mental health and improve knowledge and understanding.
Bringing together LFC Foundation, Red Neighbours and Spirit of Shankly’s volunteers and members, the project will give fans and their friends and family the opportunity to attend matchday (when permitted) and non-matchday events to speak with specialist staff and access key support services.
Some of the events that are currently in the planning stages include, a launch event at Anfield (when possible) featuring information stalls from a range of mental health organisations, coffee and chat mornings, where fans can come along for an informal chat and get together with other fans for mutual mental health support, and fan training sessions led by specialist staff for fans to learn key skills when managing their own mental wellbeing and also how best to support others in their lives who might be struggling.
A thought-provoking visual display will also be available for fans to view at Anfield, that conceptualises mental health and the devastating realities of suicide.
Matt Parish, LFC Foundation Director, said: “The promotion of positive mental health and wellbeing and mental health support is something that we are very passionate at the LFC Foundation and is the reason why it runs throughout all of our programmes.
“We continue to invest in our mental health provision so that we can keep on expanding our offer to help more people. This new mental health project with Red Neighbours and Spirit of Shankly is enabling us to do just that and helping to make a real difference to our LFC family.
“I am really excited by this new project and believe that we can make strides together in reducing the stigma around mental health, providing essential support to fans and highlighting services on offer, with the ultimate aim of improving fans mental health and wellbeing and reducing suicide rates, which still remain unacceptable high in the UK, particularly amongst young males aged 20-49.”
The project will be funded by LFC Lotto as part of LFC Foundation’s Adult Health Programmes and Spirit of Shankly.
Joe Blott, Chair of Spirit of Shankly, added: “I am delighted that Spirit of Shankly will be working with the LFC Foundation to raise awareness of mental health, especially amongst our fan base.
“One in four of us are affected by mental health problems in any given year yet still too many people are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless as a result.
“Suicide is the biggest killer among men under 50 as well as the leading cause of death in young people. Nowhere is this more acutely highlighted in the demographic of the football fan.
“We know people are struggling - sometimes we only see them from one game to the next, not knowing what is going on in their lives, often their only escape.
“Spirit of Shankly have a long-standing commitment to highlight mental health issues and we feel that with the current crisis, and behind closed doors football that the time is right to open up to mental health; to talk and to listen. No one should walk alone at this time and we can all make a difference.”
The announcement on World Suicide Prevention Day is coupled with an awareness-raising campaign led by LFC Foundation and the Club’s Safeguarding team, including hard-hitting statistics around suicide and a video from LFC Legend Jason McAteer, who speaks openly about how he himself has experienced mental health difficulties and how seeking help was what helped him through at his lowest time.
Liverpool FC have a dedicated team of Safeguarding specialists, who can offer support and help. For more information, please visit www.liverpoolfc.com/fans/safeguarding
If you or someone you know needs specialist support, please contact:
- Samaritans – 116 123
- Papyrus – teenage suicide / mental health - 0800 068 4141
- NSPCC – Childline – 0800 111