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Funding to enhance football mental wellbeing programme

A programme to use the power of football to help support people experiencing poor mental wellbeing, using the connection to professional football, has been enhanced by funding from Scottish Government.

The Changing Room – Extra Time has been awarded £100,000. The new programme builds on The Changing Room, an existing support service which uses football to bring men together to tackle mental health.

It will be delivered by SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) in partnership with the SPFL Trust and associated community trusts at Aberdeen (AFC Community Trust), Rangers (Rangers Charity Foundation), Heart of Midlothian (Big Hearts) and Hibernian (Hibernian Community Foundation) football clubs.

The Extra Time initiative will provide an opportunity for people to explore specific areas that often challenge them including how they view themselves, think and feel – all of which impacts on their mental wellbeing. 

Mental Wellbeing Minister Kevin Stewart, who launched the initiative at Pittodrie, home of Aberdeen FC, said:

‘Mental wellbeing has never been more important especially as we continue to deal with the ongoing pandemic and I am pleased to see this programme grow and develop.

‘Although the focus is on four of our biggest clubs, which are all situated in urban areas, there is significant reach within those clubs across wider Scotland. My message is simple, we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about how we are feeling. This is an excellent way to combine football to improve mental wellbeing.’

person playing soccer

Billy Watson, chief executive at SAMH said: ‘We’re delighted that the Scottish Government is funding The Changing Room – Extra Time, which will provide people with an opportunity to focus on resilience and self-care by exploring areas that often challenge them.

‘It can be a struggle for many of us to talk about how we feel, and football is a really powerful way of bringing them together and encouraging them to open up.

‘The Changing Room pilot projects have shown the difference the right support can make. Extra Time is a result of the value of this unique form of support being recognised not only by our pilot partners, but now also the Scottish Government and our new football club partners.

‘Together, we’ve designed this expanded programme to fit the needs of people across the country, and we look forward to starting the next chapter of The Changing Room.’

Aberdeen FC Community Trust chief executive Liz Bowie said: ‘We’re absolutely delighted that The Changing Room Extra Time is coming to Pittodrie, because this programme has a track record of success in supporting men to improve their mental health. We are sure that the Red Army will get right behind the project.’

SPFL Trust operations manager Fiona Taylor said: ‘Football has an extraordinary power to inspire people to make changes for the better. We’ve seen this with other programmes such as Football Fans in Training, and the pilot of The Changing Room at Easter Road and Tynecastle.

‘The Changing Room Extra Time brings together the expertise of SAMH and our brilliant community trust partners to deliver something which we know people are looking for; interaction, safe spaces and friendship. What better place to provide this, than in the sanctuary of a club’s changing room?’

Photo Credit – Jannik Skorna

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