To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, we're highlighting some of the fantastic work being carried out by clubs across the JD Cymru Leagues in this area.
One club who are using the power of football to tackle the stigma is Ammanford. The JD Cymru South club helped set up the Jac Lewis Foundation in 2019 after a former player lost his battle with mental health and took his own life in the February of that year.
Ammanford also helped towards building the Jac Lewis Foundation wellbeing centre, which is situated within the club’s grounds.
Jac was just 27 when he died and now the centre built in his name provides free services including counselling, play therapy, wellbeing workshops, training courses and a space for people to get together.
Rhodri Jones is the club vice-chair and said: “As a club, we were hit directly by a mental health tragedy when Jac died.
"A group of friends decided to get together to form the charity and then launched the counselling service.
“During the pandemic, the demand went through the roof with people feeling isolated or worried about unemployment or of course suffering from bereavement.
"Jac didn’t get the support he needed and we didn’t want anyone else feeling like that. This way, we can make sure people get the help they need, close to home.”
The drive and commitment of the local community supported by Ammanford has enabled the foundation to grow.
The foundation – which has also received more than £19,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund – opened last year and now employs a full-time counsellor with a further 40 trainee counsellors providing support to local people.
Jones said: “It was such a relief to get the funding for the club from The National Lottery during Covid. It meant we didn’t have to worry about the club and any spare cash we could invest in the wellbeing centre.
"It has been a huge priority for us and we’ve seen how it has benefited people already. Jac was one of my best mates and he’d have loved what’s been done. The football club was his second home – he loved it here.”
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