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How Wolves showed Simon there were reasons to live

31 Jul 2020
Simon Rickards, We Are One Team

Club's mental health programme and defender Ryan Bennett helped inspire a Wolves fan as Premier League joins landmark "Mentally Healthy Football" declaration

The Premier League's "Mentally Healthy Football" declaration, launched jointly with the United Kingdom's football family earlier this week, is a commitment to making mental health a key priority at all levels of the game.

Mental-health programmes, run by the League and its clubs, have helped to support and inspire their local communities as well as players and staff with their struggles.

Earlier this month, Wolverhampton Wanderers fan Simon Rickards candidly spoke about the issues he has had with his mental wellbeing.

Wolves' help through tough times

A combination of speaking to first-team player Ryan Bennett and the Wolves Foundation's Head 4 Health programme gave him hope when all appeared to be lost, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I've had struggles with mental-health issues for pretty much all of my adult life," says Simon. "Over the last few years, those problems have been mostly in the form of an eating disorder and I got quite sick with anorexia.

"In the last year or so, I've also been battling quite severe depression.

"The sad thing was I've got a very close friend, Hannah Worthington, and I pushed her out of my life without any reason at all.

"Then suddenly, at the turn of the year, I was left alone, of my own doing, completely dependent on unhelpful and dangerous coping mechanisms. I attempted suicide.

"But then I was exchanging messages with Ryan Bennett, who's now at Leicester City, on social media and he suggested I go to Head 4 Health. They have this informal Wednesday evening group.

"Throughout the pandemic I've been furloughed. I found it incredibly hard because one of my greatest achievements last year, after four years of having no job and having anorexia and all the rest of it, was getting back into work."

'Reason to be alive'

Despite his issues with social anxiety, Simon found the courage to overcome his fears to get the help he needed.

"If I hadn't had Head 4 Health there, I might have done myself in, to be honest," Simon adds.

"What they did for me was show me I had value again, that there was reason to be alive, to exist, to fight.

"And the biggest thing they did is made me realise the value of people that care about me.

"Head 4 Health had drummed into me that a good support network and good friends are so valuable, and so after I got into a better place in my head, Hannah and I rebuilt our friendship."

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