World Mental Health Day

Newcastle duo's show of support for World Mental Health Day

10 Oct 2023
Newcastle United Foundation

Dan Burn and Sean Longstaff share their experience at Foundation's Football Talks session

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Newcastle United stars Dan Burn and Sean Longstaff walked into a mental health workshop at Newcastle United Foundation to a round of applause and cheers reminiscent of a matchday at St James’ Park.

The welcome for the local heroes, from a room of individuals who once suffered in silence, epitomised the impact of the Foundation’s mental health group, Football Talks.

See: Here to help you #StayWell

Ahead of World Mental Health Day on Tuesday 10 October, which aims to raise awareness and drive positive change for mental health, Burn and Longstaff took part in a special workshop created by the club’s official charity, supporting adults throughout the north east.

The duo joined participants for a Q&A session, talking about their own previous struggles and how they addressed those low points, while also hearing from individuals who have suffered mental health issues ranging from poor sleep and stress to the distress of coping with family suicides. The north east of England currently has the highest rate of adult male suicides in the UK.

Dan Burn Foundation workshop

“It’s such a taboo thing and something that we don’t talk about enough," said Newcastle defender Burn, who was named the Professional Footballers' Association Community Champion 2022/23 for his work off the pitch.

"Mental health affects everybody from all walks of life and is something that needs to be talked about more to be able to help those who maybe don’t seek the support they need or want.

"It’s hard when you’re in that negative headspace because you don’t actually realise that you’re in it, and you think that some of the things you’re worrying about and stressing about don’t matter or have an impact, but they do.

"Now when I look back on times when I was struggling, I can’t believe that those thoughts were even going through my head.”

Mental health doesn't discriminate

Longstaff agreed with his team-mate, stating that mental health issues can impact anyone, including professional footballers.

“Just because you see somebody playing football on the telly, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t affected by the same things that somebody watching the game is," said Longstaff, who is also an ambassador for the Foundation. "Mental health doesn’t discriminate and the lows can affect anybody at any time."

Shared experiences

The duo were both deeply touched by the stories they heard at the workshop.

“The session was powerful and sad," added Longstaff. "There was a gent who opened up and talked about suicides in his family and it was hard to hear.

"For him to have this group of people and support from the Foundation is really important because it’s a space where he and others can help each other and support each other. These Football Talks session make more difference than anybody can realise or describe.”

Newcastle United Foundation
What is Football Talks?

The Football Talks workshop helps participants of all ages to open up about their feelings, combating a number of health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression along with social isolation.

It has had over 2,000 participants and delivered more than 1,150 hours of Football Talks sessions since its creation in 2020, running a weekly group at NUCASTLE, the Foundation’s community hub only five minutes’ walk from St James’ Park. 

“Football Talks launched during the height of the pandemic and was our way of connecting with participants who were socially isolated during lockdown," explained Thomas Graham, health and wellbeing project coordinator at the Foundation.

“Support from the Premier League Charitable Fund allows us to deliver Football Talks for free every single week, and without this funding these sessions simply wouldn’t be possible. We are extremely grateful to both them and Newcastle United for their amazing support.”

Reach out for help

Burn, who has attended a number of the charity’s programmes across their key areas, urged those struggling to try and reach out for help.

“The work that the Foundation does across all their programmes is so important, but to see the work first-hand on supporting mental health is really special," he said.

“The help, support and togetherness of the group was clear to see and if anybody out there is struggling then I cannot recommend highly enough that people get in touch with the Foundation."

Anybody looking to take part in Football Talks can do so by getting in touch with the Foundation via or by using the free, confidential text service. Text ‘BAGC’ to 85258.

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