Lancashire CFA is pleased to be part of a new mental health champions scheme launched by The Football Association [The FA], to provide advice and support to grassroots referees and match officials across the county.
The launch comes as the nation prepares for Time To Talk Day on 4 February, with open conversations about mental health being more important than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The transformative scheme, believed to be the first of its kind for grassroots match officials in any sport, aims to create an open environment so that referees and everyone involved in the referee community in Lancashire can talk openly about mental health and be supported.
As a founding signatory of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation and the Heads Up Mentally Healthy Football Declaration, The FA has worked closely with Mind to co-design the mental health champion role to help tackle the stigma of mental health within refereeing.
As part of the scheme, our volunteers Dave Boston, Emily Carney and Lucy Briggs from within the grassroots refereeing community will champion the importance of mental wellbeing, encourage conversation and act as points of contact for any match officials aged 18 or over experiencing mental health problems, helping to signpost towards professional support services if required.
The scheme is being piloted in 11 County FAs across the North of England and the Midlands including Lancashire and all volunteers have received mental health awareness and champion role training. The intention is to expand the scheme nationally during 2021.
Richard Glynne-Jones, FA National Referee Manager said: "The mental health and wellbeing of people is more important now than ever, and The FA is committed to putting important steps in place to support our grassroots referees and match officials. This scheme will help create a culture that promotes positive mental health amongst our refereeing community, encouraging honest and open conversations and breaking down the historic stigmas to inspire positive change. We are grateful for the support of the 11 County FAs involved in driving the pilot forward and we look forward to working with other County FAs on this over the course of the year.”
Hayley Jarvis, Head of Physical Activity for Mind, said: “Mental health is gaining increasing visibility in football, which is hugely encouraging. But while the mental health of fans and players is now being talked about more than ever, it’s vital that we address the wellbeing of everyone involved in the game, not least referees, who face a unique set of challenges that could affect their mental wellbeing. That’s why we’re delighted to be working with The FA, and our training partner Washington Mind, on this ground-breaking scheme to support the mental health of grassroots referees and match officials across the country.”
Shaun Taylor, Lancashire FA Referee Development Officer, said, “The mental health and well being of everyone in society should be seen as a number one priority. I’m delighted that we as a County FA are supporting this pilot, which in turn will hopefully encourage and support Lancashire FA Match Officials who may be struggling with their Mental Health to have open and honest conversations with one of our Mental Health Champions. This is a fantastic initiative set up by the FA in partnership with MIND and our thanks go to Emily, Lucy and Dave for putting themselves forward to become a champion. We look forward to working with them soon.”
Lancashire CFA's mental health champions are Dave Boston, Emily Carney and Lucy Briggs.
Refereeing has helped Dave through the most difficult chapters of his life and is a release from the everyday stresses he faces. He recognises the importance of support networks (Dave’s is his family) and is committed to helping match officials who might be experiencing mental health problems.
Previously a player and coach, Lucy is hoping to be able to draw upon her own experience of mental health to be able to help others. Lucy recognises that refereeing can be a lonely business at times and she is committed to helping others get through any mental health problems they may be having.
Emily is a Level 4 referee in the North West and a FIFA assistant referee operating on the Women’s Super League. She is committed to helping support referees with mental health, believing strongly in the importance of match officials looking after their mental health in the same way as they do their physical health.
Emily is keen for match officials to ‘start a conversation’ that might help others struggling with their mental health.
If you have a mental health problem and would like to have a confidential conversation, then please first make contact with Dave via firstname.lastname@example.org, Emily via email@example.com or Lucy via firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a suitable time to talk.
The County FAs involved in the pilot are:
Sheffield and Hallamshire