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Watford sessions lifting James' mental wellbeing

10 Oct 2019

On World Mental Health Day, see how 'Man On!' programme is supporting young men by combining football with workshops

Today marks World Mental Health Day. All Premier League clubs are working in their local communities, helping people with their mental wellbeing. 

Three years ago, when Watford season ticket-holder James Lindsay was at university, mental health illness halted his progress and affected his employability.

"I had a psychotic episode and was sectioned," he explains. "I had to spend four weeks in a psychiatric ward.

"When you're really low you don't look at the future in a positive way. You don't think it's going to get better."

In June this year James noticed that the Watford FC Community Sports and Education Trust run a programme called 'Man On!', encouraging physical activity and mental wellbeing among men.

Each Wednesday participants spend an hour playing football, then half an hour talking together in wellbeing workshops.

'Highlight of the week'

"When I first started at 'Man On!' I thought it was worth going along and seeing what it was all about," says James. "I absolutely loved it.

"It's both a good way to talk and a good way to exercise. It's kind of the highlight of the week. The middle of the week can always be hard, so it really helps with that.

"I've got my career back on track, I've got back into good shape and I’ve become a lot stronger mentally. It's also helped me to help others."

Liam Dwyer, Mental & Physical Wellbeing Officer at Watford's CSE Trust, has seen the change in James first-hand.

"You can see him growing in confidence," he says. "He's really supportive towards the other guys."

'Community, family and friends'

James was just beginning volunteer media work with the Watford CSE Trust when he gained full-time employment as a marketing assistant at the National Animal Welfare Trust.

He still attends the sessions every Wednesday though.

"I think the Watford CSE Trust do an amazing job with 'Man On!', and it's something that could benefit everyone," says James.

"The words 'Watford FC' I associate with community, family, friends and good times."

Mental health problems can affect anyone, any day of the year. If you or someone you know are having thoughts and feelings that are making day-to-day life difficult, it’s always OK to ask for help .

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