Football team to go head-to-head with NHS staff and tackle the stigma of mental health


A special football game is taking place on Tuesday 6th October at Dewsbury Sports Centre to raise awareness of mental health and promote wellbeing.

A team of service users will go up against staff from the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust including the chief executive Steven Michael, who will captain the team. 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem in the course of a year, but unlike other medical issues mental illness doesn’t always generate understanding and sympathy. As part of the Trust’s Festival of Wellbeing the teams will battle it out on the pitch to dispel mental health myths which can leave people feeling hurt, diminished and socially isolated. The match has been organised by community psychiatric nurse Craig Mitchell, who challenged Steven to let his feet do the talking after hearing he has a talent for the beautiful game. Craig said, "I spoke to Steven Michael at the last Trust football tournament and he shared my views about how beneficial sport is to mental health and wellbeing and how good it is for self esteem and social inclusion. This match sends a positive message combating the negative stigma of mental illness and bridges the gap between staff and service users."

The game will kick-off at 6.45pm and act as a warm-up for the annual Good Mood Football league cup, which takes place on Thursday 8h October at The Zone, Huddersfield. The tournament will consist of 14 6-a-side teams including nine from the Good Mood Football league and other external teams including Cygnet Lodge and also Unified Voices. A presentation will be made by Littlewoods Pools, which has donated funds to support the league to raise awareness of mental health and tackle the stigma.

Julian Moses of the Calderdale Inclusion Support Service said, "It’s very important to encourage people with mental health problems to get involved in exercise and sport. Research has proven that exercise can have a positive affect on our mental health – and considering 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem we should all being exercising more often! For the people who use our services we witness how exercise can bring many positive benefits, particularly helping them build confidence and higher levels of self-esteem. We welcome everyone to pop down and enjoy the day with us all."

The football matches are part of an 18 day festival being held across Calderdale, Kirklees or Wakefield, designed to mark world mental health day 2009. Over 150 events and activities are being held on the themes of ‘Get moving, get creative and get involved’. The football is part of the festival’s ‘get moving’ theme as physical activity is great for mental wellbeing. The Trust’s chief executive, Steven Michael, said: “This is an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues, reduce stigma and promote wellbeing. We know that creativity, physical activity and social inclusion all make a big difference to wellbeing so our festival is concentrating on these areas. We want people in our local communities to be able to try something new to enhance their wellbeing.” For your chance to catch a glimpse of the knobbly knees or to cheer on one of the teams just turn up on the day or contact the Trust’s inclusion team on 0800 587 2108 or by emailing for more details.

To see the full list of events taking place as part of the Festival of Wellbeing and find out more visit

Football team to go head-to-head with NHS staff and tackle the stigma of mental health

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