Suicide. What a way to start a sentence, right? The crazy fact is that even though it’s 2018, suicide remains the single, biggest killer of men aged 45 and under in the UK today. Combine that with the fact that blokes are 73 per cent less likely to seek support or help for their emotions than their female counterparts are, and you can see that we’ve got a bit of an issue here.
Take a typical male football fan, throw in three mates, some beer, a dodgy ref and you’ve got a textbook Saturday afternoon! The conversation will probably cover Brentford winning again, maybe an argument will break out about the second-phase offside rule and there might be a discussion about which pubs will be haunted after the game. What won’t be discussed is how one of those four mates is suffering with a mental illness - how one of those four mates is struggling to cope with their thoughts and feelings. It won’t be discussed because it’s not cool. It’s seen as a weakness. Mental health has no place in the tribal and testosterone-filled world of Championship football, right? Well, that’s where Mind Kicks comes into play.
Mind Kicks has been founded with one, sole purpose - to use the power and passion of football to improve the awareness of (and reduce the stigma associated with) male mental health issues and to make talking about it fashionable. By using clubs and the celebrity status of players, this charitable trust aims at hitting blokes right in the feels, clueing them up about their own mental health and creating a topic of conversation about mental ill health along with the challenges it brings. The thing is lads; it really is okay to not be okay.
So, how can the Bees fans help? Well, Mind Kicks trustee, Tim Stoodley, explains. “What we really want you to do is to become more aware, open and honest about your own mental health," said Tim. "Get clued up on the more common illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. Understand the signs and symptoms and seek support if you identify with them.
"One in four of us will experience mental health issues in 2018 alone. Some say the figure is even higher at one in three - that’s more than 2,500 people at an average Brentford home game! Mental health isn’t all about straight-jackets, talking to the walls or being locked up. It’s about being aware of your own thought processes and feelings in order to understand what is normal and what isn’t.
"Sometimes, as with our physical health, we need a little patching up - and there’s really no shame in this at all. However, unlike physical health, you never know who might be suffering – it could even be your best mate. Help him, for example, by taking some time to talk about your feelings on the train to the next away game. You never know, that one, simple act could quite literally save his life.
"For more information about mental health, including signposts for further support, head to the Mind Kicks website (mindkicks.co.uk). You can also give Mind Kicks your support by following us on our social media channels. Or, failing that, give us all of your money - we’d take that too! Cheers!”
If you’re ever in need of immediate mental health first aid, you can contact the Samaritans, 24/7 for free on 116 123, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.