Burnley FC in the Community staff are opening up about their own experiences of mental health in support of this year’s World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10th October.
Statistics show that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year. In a town the size of Burnley, with a population of over 88,000 people, this would indicate that over 22,000 people – enough to fill the Turf Moor stadium – will be affected by mental health this year.
And in a year that has had its challenges for every one of us, BFCitC staff are embracing the theme and showcasing their own lived experiences of mental health in the hope that it will reduce the stigma for others living in Burnley and beyond.
Here, a number of our staff talk about how they’ve felt in the past and what tools helped them manage their mental health:
Abby Turner – Health & Wellbeing Manager
I would say I have been living with anxiety more than I have been living without it. I got to the point where I was crippled by anxiety, I was having constant tension headaches and it was ruling my life.
In 2019, I decided to do something about it. My career is based on helping people with their own physical and mental wellbeing – I needed to look after myself as I support others to do so.
I sought professional help and enrolled in group CBT, using the techniques I was taught in the sessions and taking part in activities I know help me to manage my anxiety including regular gym sessions, mindfulness and taking time out when I need have all helped. I have also found that speaking about my experiences helps me too.
Ryan Bradley – Business Development Executive
I felt anxious and isolated. I was doubting myself and procrastinating over the simple tasks I knew I could do.
I took time out and found a new hobby- fishing! Having time with my thoughts and doing something challenging allowed me to refocus and get back on track with my daily tasks.
Alison Malcolm – Employability Manager
I have bouts of feeling really low; don’t want to get out of bed, don’t wash or get dressed, feel unloved.
I talk to my daughter, I look at family photos, I cry and let my inner feelings come out, I also swim… A lot.
Matt Hargreaves – Head of Facilities
During lockdown, I felt disconnected and at times lonely. I was experiencing a lot of pressure and the lockdown restrictions meant that I couldn’t socialise and escape which is my usual go-to for alleviating day-to-day stresses. My usual releases were just not available.
Being creative with ways in which I could relax; taking time out to walk and ease my mind. I also found that ensuring I didn’t get sucked into the whirlwind of social media helped. I made sure I got updates from reputable sources which was a huge help at managing any feelings of uncertainty, worry and anxiety.
Ann-Marie – HR and People Manager at Burnley FC and Burnley FC in the Community
I got post-natal depression after having my third child. It was as bad as it could get.
At first I felt just a little bit low and put it down to the ‘baby blues’. This then moved on to suicidal thoughts. I felt a failure, a bad mum, a bad wife and even the easiest of tasks would be insurmountable.
At first I denied it; I lied to the health visitor when they came to do the check-up afterwards and I also tried to cover it up to my family. In the end my husband (bless him) rang the doctors behind my back for advice which resulted in him forcing me to go and see them.
I was given anti-depressants and counselling, this helped enormously and I gradually felt like my normal self.
If I ever felt low again, I wouldn’t feel ashamed or reluctant to help myself and visit the doctor.
Katy Westwell – Mental Wellbeing Worker
I felt lost and alone even when I was surrounded by people!
What helped was speaking to a counsellor, opening up to my friends about how I was feeling and learning to put myself first without feeling guilty.
Leigh Jeffrey – Sport and Education Coach
During my experiences of mental health, I have felt, anxious, stressed, emotional and cautious of what those around me thought of me.
During these experiences, there have been a range of ways I have dealt with my mental health. This has been through speaking to others, knowing I am not alone and writing down a list of how I am going to approach each situation without putting pressure on myself.
As a charity, we are passionate about keeping the conversation about mental health and we hope the honesty of our staff will inspire others to keep talking.
As well as supporting World Mental Health Day every year, we also dedicate a matchday per season to #MentalHealthAwareness.
In addition, we deliver the Schools’ Mental Wellbeing Project. Through it, we have eleven Mental Health Workers based full time in eleven secondary schools in Burnley and Pendle, supporting young people with their mental health via one to one sessions and group workshops.
If you need support with your mental health, you can find information and help from the following organisations:
Provides confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.
Mind provides confidential mental health information services. With support and understanding, Mind enables people to make informed choices. The Infoline gives information on types of mental health problems, where to get help, drug treatments, alternative therapies and advocacy. Mind works in partnership with around 140 local Minds providing local mental health services.
Shout is the UK’s first 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help.