Notts County FITC are at the frontline of improving the mental health of men and women from Nottingham. FITC deliver numerous projects which have successfully improved the mental health of 100s of people across the county of Nottingham. County are looking to increase this even more with the addition of an exciting new “signing” to the team which will add significant skill and experience.
Dr Nigel Plant has recently joined Notts County FC Football in the Community (FITC) since his retirement as Associate Professor teaching Mental Health Nursing at the University of Nottingham. A life-long Notts County FC fan and mental health specialist, Nigel has joined former Notts County FC manager and captain, Ian Richardson to work part-time on FITC’s mental health projects, offering additional support. He commented “I believe these projects provide a unique service in a non-clinical environment, and reach out to members of the public who may be put off from seeking assistance from more formal and assessment-based services”.
FITC delivers six community mental health projects in total, including two very different projects for men and women, using multi-sports and physical activity, while achieving positive, long-term benefits for participants.
The men’s project “On the Ball” was designed nine years ago in collaboration with Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust (the local NHS mental health trust), has received several awards and is recognised as an example of national best practice among professional football clubs. The “Notts County” model has developed such a wide-reaching reputation that the team have received visits from mental health workers from Norway and Iceland in the last few months.
The project uses football to build team working, communication and social skills. It enables participants to train in a structured football environment with high quality staff. Participants benefit from a healthier lifestyle and regular activity, giving them more energy and helping them feel more positive. The project includes half-time team talks based on topical, high profile football stories, which encourage participants to open up and discuss issues such as depression, anger management, communication and team working, among others. In this way, participants benefit from positive mental health promotion in a non-clinical environment.
Meanwhile, the women’s project “Right Mind” was introduced 18 months ago and is a multi-sports and social project, which has been a success from the outset. Sessions are based around exercise which participants select from a menu of activities. These are delivered by male and female coaches in a relaxed, supportive environment. The main focus is ensuring everyone has fun by playing a range of sports and taking part in different physical activities. Participants make new friends and have the opportunity to socialise at the end of sessions.
“Right Mind” participant Kat Turner: “I feel like I am much more stable at home, it gets me up in the morning and out of the house meeting other people. I just feel it’s helping my all round mental and physical health. I’ve been losing wight ad thinking about what I eat more, and it encourages me to do things for myself which I probably wouldn’t have been motivated to do. So it’s definitely helping my confidence and motivation”.
Dr Alan Pringle, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham (UoN) and expert on the impact of professional football on mental health: “Although many excellent professional football community mental health schemes are in existence. The longevity of the Notts County FITC mental health schemes set them apart from the others”.