In Northern Ireland, the Irish Football Association is raising awareness about mental health with a new initiative which will reward clubs that sign up to a special charter and show best practice.
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The Irish Football Association (IFA) has launched a new programme to raise awareness of the issues surrounding mental health. The association is working in partnership with Train 2B Smart Soccer and the TAMHI, MindSight, Inspire and Change Your Mind charities to deliver the Ahead Of The Game initiative.
It marked the launch of the programme with the release of a mental health and well-being guide which will be distributed to football clubs across Northern Ireland. The guide aims to support clubs and volunteers when dealing with mental health issues, with a focus on challenging the stigma and preventative measures.
Supported by UEFA HatTrick funding for football-related social responsibility projects, Ahead Of The Game will reward 100 clubs that demonstrate best practice and have signed up to a mental health charter, which comes with an equipment pack and further training in using the club guide. The initiative will also become part of the Irish FA's wider club accreditation programme.
IFA president David Martin said: "It is important to raise awareness of the issues surrounding mental health as they can affect anyone, including those in the football family. Football plays a big part in the mental health of players, volunteers and even supporters as it can have a major impact on our emotions, relationships, identity and self-esteem. Staying mentally well is comparable to staying physically fit."
This article originally appeared in UEFA Direct 179