Bishop's Stortford Community Football Club one of first Hertfordshire sports clubs to join free mental health and suicide prevention programme
A free mental health and suicide prevention programme is being offered to all 2,500 sports clubs in Hertfordshire – and Bishop's Stortford Community Football Club is one of the first to sign up.
The new £1m initiative from Govox is being delivered in partnership with the Herts Sports Partnership.
Signing up to the mental health platform, which has been developed with input from King's College London and NHSX, means BSCFC's 1,000-plus members will be able to access vital support.
And HSP director John O'Callaghan believes sports clubs and coaches could soon be dealing with a "mental health pandemic".
"If we want to confront suicide at the national level, intervention through sports clubs could be a key way of doing this," he said. "I can't think of a better way of reaching such a large cross-section of people.
"The evidence suggests that, as a result of the last couple of years, there is a mental health pandemic around the corner.
"And we are already seeing our sports coaches and physical activity instructors finding themselves on the front line for mental health-related issues, particularly around younger people."
BSCFC members will be able to complete simple 'check-ins' where they answer a set of short questions that analyse their overall mental health, providing a wellbeing score and flagging any concerning findings to their club's mental health representative, in particular highlighting any high-risk individuals and increasing the chances of successful intervention.
The platform is not only aimed at saving lives but improving them by monitoring and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of all players and coaches using the platform.
"Suicide impacts all kinds of people, but the stats show very clearly that it disproportionately impacts men under the age of 50 – exactly the same demographic we see heavily represented in sports clubs across the UK," said Govox founder Richard Lucas.
"In addition, suicides amongst younger women, aged 18-24, are increasing, and this is a way to reach them too.
"By working with HSP we'll be able to offer tens of thousands of people mental health support."
The Govox platform is being delivered with the support of suicide prevention charities, including ANDYSMANCLUB, Mind In Mid Herts and The Jordan Legacy, ensuring club members are signposted to effective support.