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Young footballers given mental health training at the Clarets

Posted on the 18th January 2018

With an increasing number of current and retired football players seeking help for mental health problems, the Burnley Mindsmatter Team has joined up with the Clarets to offer a unique first-of-its-kind course to youngsters aspiring to become professional footballers at Burnley Football Club.

According to the Professional Footballers’ Association, there is an increase in footballers seeking help for mental health problems – this is often related to changes in managers, contracts, performance and retirement (for details on football players seeking help for mental health problems see link to BBC article below). As a result, the Burnley Mindsmatter has teamed up with the Burnley Football Club Youth Team Squad to offer the ‘CLARETS’ Cognitive Behaviour Therapy course to 15 to 17 year olds.

The course began on Tuesday 16 January and seeks to teach participants some valuable Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques that would support them now and also in the future with mental health challenges on and off the pitch. The course is run over seven sessions with each session titled with a word that begins with one of the letters of the Burnley team’s nickname, the Clarets.

Steven Ratcliffe from Mindsmatter Burnley said:

“There is a lot in the media and news about footballers with mental health issues particularly when injured or retired. However, this also affects youngsters who aspire to become future footballers. Some show signs of anxiety, low mood and OCD at an early age with all the pressure that they are under. We noticed that there is a real problem here and so we have partnered up with Burnley Football Team to provide them with some useful training.”

Nicola Scott co-facilitator on CLARETS said:

“We will be giving them homework to practice these skills outside of the sessions and they be given recap material after the course so they can re-read what they learnt in the future. We plan to run this with each cohort once or twice a year. This is the first of its kind in the Premiership. We plan on reviewing and evaluating the course each time we run it to see how effective it is. If it’s positive it may be something other clubs will want to run too.” 

The course will cover issues relating to mental health and stress within football, understanding the difference between thoughts, feelings, physical symptoms and behaviours, effective goal setting, how to deal with worry on and off the pitch, anxiety and how rituals can manifest in sport, link between food and mood, how to challenge negative thoughts.

Lancashire Care’s Mindsmatter service provides talking therapies for adults aged 16 and over who are experiencing common mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and stress. The teams offer a variety of different interventions and support including stress management courses, development courses, supported online programmes, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and counselling.

For more information about the service and to access an online self-referral form, visit www.lancashirecare.nhs.uk/Mindsmatter.