‘The football sessions held by Tranmere Rovers have helped improve my mental health and I have made some good new friends.’
Those are the strong words from John, who has battled a number of alcohol and mental health related issues for a long period of time.
John, through the fantastic support provided by Wirral Ways to Recovery, is getting his life back on track with the additional help of Tranmere Rovers Football Club.
After being referred by doctors to Wirral Ways to Recovery in his fight against his mental health and alcohol problems, John now regularly attends weekly football sessions held by Tranmere Rovers in the Community, which is held on a Tuesday at the Recreation Centre at Prenton Park.
Sharing his story ahead of World Mental Health Day 2019, John said: “I have always had mental health problems when I was growing up, but my mum just thought I got angry a lot. I thought it was normal and I went on with life thinking it was normal, but it got to a point as I got older to realise it wasn’t normal, stuff happened in my life which turned my mental health into a downward spiral and it got to a point where I was paranoid and hearing voices.
“My sister and my mum came up to me and said, ‘John, you’re not right,’ we need to take you to the doctors. Speaking to the doctor and speaking out loud about all the problems and all of the issues, I was amazed with myself, the doctor referred me to the early intervention team, so I went through all the channels and medication and I got better. However, when I stopped my medication. It all spiralled out of control again and I got worse.
“I got back on the medication, my mum was ill at the time, so she couldn’t look after me with my medication, but I was moving from house to house with my family and finally got into a residential place and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. My anxiety and paranoia and voices, everything has decreased massively, and I’m not upset anymore, I’m not in a spiral.
“I got involved in Wirral Ways through my drinking, I stopped drinking for six months and then went to hospital which was a further four weeks, because that was just a blur, but I started getting more comfortable around people. I was drinking way too much, and I would wake up, still be drunk and head to the shop again when the shop was allowed to serve alcohol.
“Because I am in supported living now, the staff said that I needed to go to Wirral Ways because my drinking was out of control, and I listened to them as I think other people know better than me, and Wirral Ways told me to go on an alcohol course which gives you an insight of triggers and causes of alcoholism.”
The overall objective of the football programme is to help both men and women with mental health problems and John has explained how he got involved with Tranmere Rovers In the Community.
John added: “When I first started coming here, I was with my CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) because he knew I liked playing football, until I got comfortable again, he didn’t have to come anymore, I started going and enjoyed it and interacted with other people.
“I think I’ve made some pretty good friends since coming here, it’s definitely improved my mental health, I don’t have to think about my mental health, I can focus and concentrate on one thing.
“I’d tell people to come as all the lads are welcoming here and I have really enjoyed it. “