Chelsea Foundation are recognising Mental Health Awareness Week with a series of activities to help raise awareness of the importance of mental health and how to help with anxiety, including welcoming supporters to Stamford Bridge to share their stories.
As part of ‘Over the Line’, set up by independent fan organisation the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust to provide support to Blues supporters who might be struggling with their mental health, the club invited supporters Mark Worrall and Rebecca Matthews to take part in a video to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing.
Michael Volpe OBE, a member of the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, explains the initiative: ‘The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust’s Over The Line is a response to a growing recognition of the need to be open and accepting of our mental health.
‘Among football fans – and particularly male football fans – being strong and tough is considered a default position, despite the changing narratives in the wider community. This coincided with growing examples of Chelsea fans reaching out on social media for support, and, sadly, cases in which people had taken their lives.
‘Along with other Chelsea supporters, we conceived the idea of a signposting and education resource specifically aimed at Chelsea supporters (although, no doubt, supporters of other clubs may happen across it) in order to help people make that first step ‘over the line’ into the process of recovery.
‘Our primary aim is very simple: to help people recognise their problems and then to find the resources to do something about it. It is very important to note that Over The Line is not a counselling or crisis service: our website sits at the very sharp point of the process. Our website gives links and contacts to crisis services should you need them.
‘Over The Line will hopefully contribute to helping many Chelsea supporters take the first steps to recovery, but to also provide a reference point for the conversation to continue. In a challenging world, it is more important than ever to look after our mental health in the same way as we would our physical health, and we hope Over The Line can make a significant contribution to the wider well-being of the Chelsea family.
‘Moving forward, we are working closely with the club to look at ways to further develop this initiative, including the introduction of matchday wellbeing hubs, where people can come to find a safe space to talk and be signposted to other services, either through the Chelsea Foundation or services local to the area people live in.’