Tackling mental health problems on the pitch

Walsall FC tackles patients’ mental health problems on the pitch

Patients in Walsall are being given the chan ce to receive free coaching from Walsall Football Club at the Banks’s Stadium, as part of a six-week pilot programme called ‘Beat the Block’ to improve mental health and wellbeing.

The free pilot programme will see male patients from our Walsall Early Intervention (EI) service, which is part of Dudley and Walsall Mental Health (DWMH) Partnership NHS Trust, test out their skills with passing and moving techniques and take part in 5-a-side football matches with Walsall FC Community Programme coaches.

Patients, aged between 14 and 65, will also have the opportunity to receive further support and learn about mental wellbeing as part of a workshop hosted by specialist staff from DWMH.

Walsall Football Club play in the English Football League (EFL) which is sponsored by MIND, and has mental health listed as one of the club’s core values, so starting up this free pilot programme was a no-brainer for the club.

DWMH staff will monitor patients’ physical wellbeing indicators, for example, BMI figures and will complete depression and anxiety scales with the hope that improvements will take place over the course of the programme.

Chief Executive Mark Axcell said: “This is a fantastic idea and I think it will benefit our patients massively, but will also highlight the important link between exercise and mental wellbeing.

“We can’t wait to see the results!”

Martin Manley, Manager for Engagement at Walsall FC Community Programme, said: “We are delighted to work in partnership with Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust on this pilot to give local people with mental health issues access to football provision here at the Banks’s Stadium.”