Suicide prevention charity Mikeysline teams up with Caley Thistle in a bid to help break the football's stigma on mental health matters
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John Robertson, Inverness Caley Thistle’s sporting director, believes the hard work and dedication of organisations like Mikeysline is helping break down football’s traditional stigma on mental health matters.
The club’s past manager, now an ambassador for the local mental health and suicide prevention charity, is aware that a culture of machismo has held back efforts to promote better mental health within the sport.
Now the Championship side’s entire first team squad and coaching staff have received an engaging talk on mental health awareness by Mikeysline at the Caledonian Stadium.
While football can be viewed as a glamorous profession and lifestyle, success and failure brings with it additional pressures for performers young and old.
The presentation, delivered by Mikeysline staff Emily Stokes, Joe Carson and Natalie Sutherland, looked at the importance of good mental health and the possible signs to look out for in others.
It also gave advice on how to support conversations and how to access help.
Mr Robertson said: “Natalie, Emily and Joe produced a thought-provoking session for the whole squad and coaching staff, and did a fantastic job.
“They kept all the players engaged throughout and it was also great to see players of all different ages giving their thoughts when asked to contribute.
“It can be hard for players struggling with their mental health and wellbeing due to the stigma surrounding it in our game, but hopefully sessions like the one Mikeysline produced can help break that stigma.
“While we expect our players to be good role models, we must also realise that they can be just as vulnerable as others.
“Mikeysline is a charity that everyone hopes you, your family and friends will never need, but unfortunately we all know that is sadly not the case.”
Ms Stokes, the charity’s chief executive officer, said: “We were delighted to spend time with the Caley Thistle first team players and staff.
“No matter who we are, things can happen from time to time in all of our lives that impact on our mental wellbeing.
“On top of this, for professional footballers, there is – at minimum – the added pressure to play well and get the win on match days, and make their supporters and club proud.
“Pressure and stress can have an adverse effect on anyone and it is how we are able to deal with it that keeps us physically and mentally well.
“There was great participation in the session and it was an added bonus to have John Robertson, our new ambassador, join us to finish off the session, reminding all that no matter who we are, it’s OK not to be OK.”