Cristiana Hattersley - Refereeing Review

Mental Health Scheme for Referees Launches

The FA has launched a new Mental Health Champions Scheme for grassroots referees.

Berks & Bucks FA is pleased to be part of the mental health champions scheme launched last year by The Football Association [The FA], to provide advice and support to grassroots match officials across the County.

The transformative scheme, believed to be the first of its kind for grassroots match officials in any sport, aims to create an open environment so that everyone involved in the refereeing community in Berks and Bucks can talk openly about mental health and be supported. 

As a founding signatory of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation and the Heads Up Mentally Healthy Football Declaration, The FA worked closely with Mind to co-design the mental health champion role to help tackle the stigma of mental health within refereeing. 

As part of the scheme, our volunteer Nick Phipps from within the grassroots refereeing community will champion the importance of mental wellbeing, encourage conversation and act as a point of contact for any match official aged 18 or over experiencing mental health problems, helping to signpost towards professional support services if required.
Richard Glynne-Jones, FA National Referee Manager said: "The mental health and wellbeing of people is more important now than ever, and The FA is committed to putting important steps in place to support our grassroots match officials. This scheme will help create a culture that promotes positive mental health amongst our refereeing community, encouraging honest and open conversations and breaking down the historic stigmas to inspire positive change. We are grateful for the support of Berks and Bucks CFA in driving the scheme forward”.

Hayley Jarvis, Head of Physical Activity for Mind, said: “Mental health is gaining increasing visibility in football, which is hugely encouraging. But while the mental health of fans and players is now being talked about more than ever, it’s vital that we address the wellbeing of everyone involved in the game, not least referees, who face a unique set of challenges that could affect their mental wellbeing. That’s why we’re delighted to be working with The FA, and our training partner Washington Mind, on this ground-breaking scheme to support the mental health of grassroots match officials across the country.”

Sam Myatt, Berks & Bucks FA, Referee Development Officer, said: “The last few years have been challenging for everybody and support around mental health is crucial. As referees, we are involved in a sport that we love and are passionate about, so providing support to our match officials is really important. I am delighted that Nick has agreed to come on board to help offer additional support to all of the officials in our county. Having spoken with Nick, he is keen to get started and I am confident he will help make a difference in our county.”

Berks & Bucks FA’s mental health champion is Nick Phipps.

Nick has been involved in grassroots football across Berks & Bucks for over 20+ years as a player, manager and, for the last few years, referee in the East Berkshire and Thames Valley Leagues. He has also officiated overseas in the UAE.

The transition from playing hundreds of matches as part of a team into refereeing has given Nick a good understanding of the pressures that an official can face. Having a friend or colleague to speak to and reflect over experiences with has been a huge benefit for Nick over the years and he is well placed to understand some of the emotions that referees may go through, in conjunction with what may be happening in their life outside of football.

If you have a mental health problem and would like to have a confidential conversation, then please first make contact with Nick via the link below:

Contact Nick Phipps


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