Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 HERO

Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

We’re proud to support Mental Health Awareness Week

This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week, with the focus being on the benefits of movement and exercise for our mental wellbeing.

In light of this, we sat down for a chat with Steve Atkins, one of our Board of Directors, and Chair of our Inclusion Advisory Group (IAG), to discuss that very topic.

“I think I’m wired a bit differently upstairs, so I’ve not got the best mental health,” said Steve, “but with football, that helps me always look for the positives and bring those feelings of positivity to other people.

“What football does brilliantly is it forges connections between people, and brings them together through a sense of belonging, and by playing together, even just for a bit, they’re able to forget about their troubles and just make people happy.”

For Steve, weeks such as this are vital in the continuing struggle to keep a spotlight on the issue of mental health.

“I think it’s paramount for society that we have Mental Health Awareness Week, because it’s an issue that impacts so many people,” he said.

“So many struggle in silence, feeling like they don’t belong, so the more we can highlight the need to talk, and the need for us all to educate ourselves on it, the better.

“We speak about how as a society we talk about listening and talking, but like on the football pitch, you need to go out there and prove it, and in this case prove it by showing that kindness and understanding.”

Steve went on to add: “People are still embarrassed, and see mental health struggles as a weakness, and if you’re not encouraged to speak up, you can continue to feel that way, so certainly more could be done to raise awareness.

With that in mind, is there anything Steve would like to see done to drive more positive change around the conversations on mental health and wellbeing?

“It baffles me when people say we live in a cruel world, because in reality as people we have the capacity to give so much kindness,” said Steve.

“So much is spoken about the need to receive kindness, but I don’t think enough is spoken about the benefits of being the one giving it out.

“I believe that kindness is a strength of character, and when I look around, the strongest people I know are the kindest.

“Speaking personally, it helps me when I try to be the one giving out kindness, in the hope that I’ve made a positive step and maybe helped bring some joy to someone.”

In light of Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve teamed up with mental health charity, West Sussex Mind, to host a recreational football tournament aimed at promoting men’s mental health awareness within sports.

“Coming together for events such as this one are so important, because as I’ve said, they provide a space for people who are going through a tough period in their mental health, to see that they’re not alone,” said Steve.

“It might be that you don’t speak about your own wellbeing because you find that you don’t need to, because you know you’re in an environment where everyone is dealing with similar problems.

“I’m sure we’ll have a great atmosphere on the day, because it’ll be an event where people can just feel safe and know they’re in the space where they can just play the most beautiful game in the world!”

If you’ve been affected by any the topics discussed in this story, or are feeling overwhelmed, organisations who can offer help are listed below:

The Samaritans - 116 123
SANEline - 0300 304 7000
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) - 0800 58 58 58

For more information on Mental Health Awareness Week please contact:

Mental Health Foundation