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Mental Health Awareness Week

'League support can help build a lasting legacy in the NHS'

22 May 2020
NHS workers at Vicarage Road

Ellie Orton, CEO of NHS Charities Together, reveals how the PL and clubs have provided mental health support to frontline workers and their families

The chief executive of NHS Charities Together says the mental health support that Premier League clubs have been providing to National Health Service staff during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a big benefit and is looking forward to deepening the relationship and the support.

Last month the League committed £20million for on-the-ground delivery to support the NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups.

Part of this money will go to NHS Charities Together to directly aid the mental health of NHS frontline workers and volunteers and their families.

"The Premier League funding is supporting the mental health recovery of NHS staff and volunteers and patients impacted by COVID," Ellie Orton, NHS Charities Together's CEO, said during Mental Health Awareness Week.

"We know many of them have never experienced anything like this, particularly with COVID-19 patients in Intensive Care Units and the funds are to help support that recovery journey and that could be quite a long journey."

Providing assistance

For many hospitals and NHS staff, "wobble rooms", where staff can seek emotional sanctuary from the exceptional stresses they are under, have played an important role for their mental wellbeing.

Premier League clubs have helped by offering their facilities at stadiums to free up space at hospitals as well as the stadiums themselves acting as sanctuaries for NHS staff, as Watford have done.

It is among the various ways that clubs have been helping local NHS Trusts, including accommodation, meals, providing testing facilities.

See: How our clubs have been helping the NHS

This and the funding are part of a relationship between the NHS and the Premier League in which Orton sees greater potential in the future.

"We would love that relationship between Premier League clubs and NHS bodies locally to develop particularly around the next stage of recovery," she said.

"Resilience is an important factor and resilience training mentally is symbiotic with professional sport. Being able to have that mental resilience, supporting each other, working as a team. These are within the psychology of Premier League players and elite sport.

"Being able to share those learnings, those practices, will be a really good way of taking forward the partnerships between the Premier League and the NHS."

"Premier League funding is supporting the mental health recovery of NHS staff and volunteers and patients impacted by COVID"

Ellie Orton

The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness and Orton stresses the positive impact the public's acts towards the NHS have had during the pandemic.

"One of the doctors from a hospital in London said to me last week that they have never experienced anything like COVID-19 in their lives," she said.

"It is horrific and the stress levels are phenomenal, but the morale has never been higher in his hospital and that is a response to the love and the care and kindness that the country has shown.

"COVID-19 is absolutely hideous, but the good thing is how kind we are to each other. Our kindness of looking after each other, inside the NHS and outside, in all areas, would be a fantastic lasting legacy.

"And having the Premier League money to be able to invest in that wellness and that care and that prioritising wellness and mental health and wellbeing, I hope is a lasting legacy of good and how we are."

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