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.
It was back in September 2019 that Darren Phillips, a volunteer at Trefelin BGC, took his own life at the age of just 45. It was a tragedy that rocked the local football community in Port Talbot and continues to have profound effect on the club from the JD Cymru South to this day.
But Darren's memory lives on, and the club are now taking action to raise awareness of mental health issues and have received the personal support of Football Association of Wales CEO Noel Mooney for their work in this area.
“It's coming up to three years since Darren passed away,” explained Trefelin BGC Mental Health Officer Martyn Wagstaff.
“From this, the club has decided to be at the forefront of mental health in sport in the local community. We work alongside the Marauders Men's Health charity.
"They have a programme called 'Mental Heath Team Mates', and Trefelin are the pilot club for that. After the initial disruption of the pandemic, it's really kicked-on over the last six months.
“I go around as many clubs in the area as I can delivering talks on mental health awareness, and on the back of that, we get as many people as we can from each club to do a mental health awareness training course.
"It's funded by the National Lottery so there's no cost to the club, and the idea is that what happened to Darren never happens to anybody at any club ever again if we can help it.”
The Marauders Men's Health charity has highlighted a number of alarming statistics. More than three out of four suicides are by men and this is the biggest cause of death for men under 35-years old. On average, 84 men take their own life each week.
“We've just put 20 people involved with Trefelin through the mental health awareness course at the basic level,” Wagstaff added. “A number of them are now moving onto the next stage of the training programme, and that's the model we would like to see at every club.
"Our talks have been really well-accepted by clubs in the area, and we're prepared to go and the put the word around wherever anybody wants us to go.”
Over Easter, the local derby between Trefelin and Goytre United was dedicated to mental health awareness, and the match offered another opportunity to showcase the excellent work being done to make Trefelin more than just a football club, but a place of support for everyone in the community.
“We've had great backing off the Football Association of Wales,” explained Wagstaff. “We're hoping that it will be the first of many such games and that the FAW will take it forward across the leagues with more games dedicated to mental health awareness in the future. To have Noel Mooney attend one of our talks was fantastic for us, and he has kept in regular contact with us about what we are doing, so it's been brilliant to have that backing.”
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