A community sports charity which operates across Coventry and Warwickshire is set to launch a new five-year mental health project targeting men in Warwickshire with a new cohort about to start in Leamington Spa.
Sky Blues in the Community (SBitC), the charity linked to Coventry City Football Club, have secured £371,000 of funding from The National Lottery’s Reaching Communities programme to deliver its mental health programme, MENtalk. SBitC are one of the few football community schemes nationally to have received an award of this size from The National Lottery which is a tribute to their track record in innovative community work. The charity expects MENtalk to be extremely attractive to men suffering with mental health problems, especially following the challenges presented by COVID 19 in recent months.
MENtalk was developed by SBitC and co-produced with beneficiaries with the aim of supporting 1,600 men over the next five years across Coventry and Warwickshire with their emotional health and well-being. The project will be delivered via one-to-one support, group physical activity and classroom-based workshops in a fun, welcoming, non-clinical environment. The project has been designed in consultation with local men and targets all men, not simply those with an interest in football or sport.
MENtalk initially launched in Coventry in early 2021, providing fun activities and social opportunities for the men that joined the programme. Feedback from some of the men that have gone through the programme has shown how MENtalk has the potential to be lifechanging:
“I’m not exaggerating when I say MENtalk has been a lifesaver as I was really struggling and running out of options about how I was going to keep going before being introduced to this course.”
“I’ve gone from Zero to Hero. I can control my anxiety attacks to an extent now using the methods we were shown in the sessions on MENtalk. I’ve stopped taking medication because of the training I’ve received.”
“You’ve helped in so many ways. I’m not sure you realise how awesome this project is from a person to have lived with this illness for so long. Talking with you has helped to calm me down and get to a better place. This group is awesome for me. My wife wants to thank you as well as she’s seen a change.”
SBitC are excited to expand the delivery of MENtalk to Warwickshire in the next few weeks. This weekend their Mental Health Team will attend the pre-season fixture between Leamington F.C. and Coventry City on Saturday 10th July and talk to fans about the project and impact so far.
Each Warwickshire MENtalk session will be led by SBitC’s specialist Mental Health Coordinator with support from SBitC’s professional sports coaches. Course content will vary based on selected modules, but ice-breaking activities and get to know you activities will form part of all courses. Workshops will cover a range of subjects related to mental health, including topics as varied as:
- Goal setting
- Life balance
- Healthy body
- Personal health
- Stress management
- Substance misuse and smoking cessation
- Understanding psychosis, depression, and anxiety
- Healthy eating and menu planning
The wide menu of activities participants can benefit from include physical activities, group exercises, team games, gardening, yoga and creative activities. MENtalk will be co-produced by participants ensuring they can choose the weekly activities they take part in.
For some people, physical activity can be as powerful as medicine or therapy. The Mental Health Foundation have said that for people with depression “comparative studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as medication or psychotherapy.” Exercise releases natural chemicals like adrenaline and serotonin which help to release muscle tension, raises the body temperature and causes tiredness. These feel-good chemicals help relieve stress and provide relaxation, which is of particular benefit for people with mental health problems.
SBitC use its credibility and connection to Coventry City FC to attract specific target groups. MENtalk will use SBitC’s ability to engage with men from across the social spectrum, enabling them to reach their potential by intensive, supportive, carefully planned work.
SBitC already play a significant role in supporting the community’s mental health and are uniquely placed as an organisation, in local men’s hearts and minds, to be able to appeal to them by focussing specifically on their interests. With a track record of being able to engage and attract men’s involvement over the long-term, SBitC can have a significant impact on their health.
SBitC’s Head of Community, Dave Busst said: “SBitC has a commitment to making a difference within our local community. We currently run a wide range of projects in Coventry and Warwickshire, based around our four themes - inclusion, health, sport and education. We’re delighted MENtalk has already had such a positive impact on the men we’re working with. This is a fantastic opportunity for men across Warwickshire to learn valuable life-skills, such as stress management and goal setting, whilst hopefully making a significant impact on their mental health and lifestyle.”
For more details regarding our MENtalk project, please email our Mental Health Co-ordinator: Robert.Chandler@sbitc.org.uk or call us on 02476 786 349