It is ok not to be ok and please don’t be afraid to talk to someone.
These are the strong words from John Smith who has battled a number of mental health and addiction issues throughout his life from an early age.
John is a now regular participant on Tranmere Rovers in the Community’s weekly football sessions, which are held in the Recreation Centre at Prenton Park, in partnership with Wirral Ways to Recovery.
The overall objective of the football programme is to help both men and women with mental health problems and John has nothing but gratitude for the support he has received at Tranmere Rovers Football Club.
“I had a bad drug addiction from an early age,” admitted John. I have been in rehab for drugs, substance misuse and mental health issues.
“I suffer from anxiety to the point where I would isolate myself away and stay in the house battling my own thoughts.
“I have been through the prison service throughout my life and to be quite honest, I was not going anywhere. I never had the confidence or belief to achieve anything and I reached out for help, but I continued to make the wrong choices.”
John, who is from Dumfries in Scotland, was put in touch with Tranmere Rovers in the Community and made aware of the football sessions, held on a Tuesday and Thursday at Prenton Park.
The 30-year-old was speaking on World Mental Health Day, which is an annual event in order to promote mental health awareness. Every year, one in four people will experience a mental health issue and John hopes by sharing his story, he will help others to seek help and not be afraid to talk.
He continued: “I was told to go along to Tranmere Rovers and give it a try, as it will help, and it has worked.
“I was nervous but as soon as I attended my first session, I realised there were others battling the same or similar issues as me and I never felt judged.
“The sessions keep me active and Tranmere Rovers has had a positive impact on my life and helps keep me in a better head space to be honest.
“The sessions have given me something to look forward to each week and it is not just all about playing football. We have had workshops on anxiety and other mental health problems to help support us all. We have all been made aware of other services out there to help and this has all stemmed by just coming and playing football here initially.
“I wanted to share my story and let others know that there is help out there. Please talk and don’t keep it all in your head, it is hard but try to push against it and speak out.
“The staff have been brilliant at Tranmere Rovers, they are all friendly and they want to help. It has had a positive impact on my life.”
Tranmere Rovers in the Community’s Development Officer Steve Williams praised John for bravely telling his story.
“We have run the programme for the last five years in conjunction with Wirral Ways to Recovery.
“We have 20-25 people turning up for sessions and they have all been through a variety of issues and have come out the other side, so the programme has been a big help.
“The power of football has definitely helped, and it gives them all a chance to take part in a fun activity, exercise and talk to others.”
If you want to reach out and talk to someone at Tranmere Rovers in the Community, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 0151 6082354 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org