During Mental Health Awareness Week, we have spoken to The Norfolk Women’s and Girls’ League about what they are doing as a league to ensure that mental health is a priority for their member clubs.
The league began their work around mental health when they hosted the Mental Health Awareness evening, in January 2019, at the Nest. The evening was focused around raising awareness of Mental Health and tackling the stigma that surrounds the subject. The evening welcomed special guest and ex-professional footballer, Cedric Anselin who spoke openly about his mental health battles and also featured a reading from Ruth Fox’s book, “Between the White Lines”, who was the inspiration behind the evening. The league rounded off the evening by announcing the introduction of Mental Health Support Officers, which they would support the training of, in each of their member clubs.
A short video on the evening can be viewed here.
Louise Riseborough, Norfolk Women’s and Girls’ League Treasurer and the driving force behind the mental health work accomplished by the league, answered some of our questions about current and future plans for the League’s work.
“Tell us a little bit about the work NWGFL have undertaken over the past couple of seasons to support the mental health of players, coaches and volunteers within your member clubs?”
“NWGFL were delighted with the success of the mental health awareness evening and the uptake to become a Mental Health Support Officer. Covid-19 has delayed our plans to develop this further, but we are excited to now be in a position to take this next step and to continue to support our member clubs. The pandemic has caused anxiety and worries for many, and it’s important more than ever that we do our bit to support people through their training to be able to help others.”
Cedric Anselin talking to Toby Nickerson at the Mental Health Awareness Evening in January 2019.
“Do you have any plans to expand on what you are currently doing for Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Norfolk Women’s and Girls League?”
“Before lockdown we provided mental health awareness training which was delivered by Mind UK to give the Mental Health Support Officer some knowledge of mental health in sport. Although this was a good starting point we wanted to give them a greater understanding of recognising mental ill health and how to support those who were in crisis. NWGFL are delighted to announce that we have established a partnership with Bluebells Mental Health Training. They will deliver the 12-hour Mental Health England Accredited First Aid qualification to our Mental Health Support Officers. We will subsidise a significant amount to the cost of the course with a minimal charge being passed on to the clubs.”
Louise Riseborough talking to Look East at the Nest prior to the Mental Health Awareness Evening.
“Why do you as a league think it is so important to support the members of your league with their mental health?”
“At NWGFL we are passionate about raising awareness around mental health. We recognise that sport is great for physical and mental well-being, and for many it is a fantastic way to keep our minds healthy. Being part of a team/club can give us a sense of belonging, a way to escape whatever has gone on during the day. It also gives us the opportunity to notice if someone is in need of support. As a league we felt it was extremely important to have Mental Health Support Officers in place at our club, as they are in a prime position to provide the initial assistance and to be able to sign post them to professional help if required.”
The Norfolk Women’s and Girls’ League committee members.
Rachel Cossey, Norfolk FA’s Senior Football Development Officer said: “The work that the NWGFL have undertaken to support the mental health of those involved in their member clubs is something that should be commended. It is great to see the league going above and beyond the usual remit of a league, to create a support system that I am sure will make a difference to many members within their league both now and in the future.”
To find out more about the NWGFL and what they offer, you can find their website here or follow them on twitter @NWGFL.