Football Pitch

Mental Health - A personal reflection

Our CEO, Liz Verrall, shares a personal reflection as Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 comes to a close.

It shouldn’t take a week of awareness to talk about your mental health, but it is an opportunity for us to put a stake in the sand and to open the conversations, give opportunities to talk and to provide safe spaces for people to share their mental health experiences (both the ups and the downs).

I look around the office at work and I see content faces, I see people talking and I see people interacting. All sounds perfect, eh?! Underneath, do we really know how others are feeling? What they are going through, what they might want to share? Do we really ask someone how they feel?

This is my opportunity to share my relationship with my own mental health. Until recently, I have considered myself to be someone with the internal strength to overcome anything. Not wanting to show weakness publicly. I don’t think there is anyone who is so infallible that they never need to ask for help. I never asked for professional help until recently.

In the past 2 years, significant life events meant I needed help. Despair, failure, guilt, shame and anger were the overwhelming thoughts, the nagging feeling and noise of not being able to control the situation left me feeling unfocussed and unmotivated. I stopped doing the things I loved.

Over the past 6 months, we have been working with a therapist to support us to work through the devastation of loss and the complexity of a situation that we still can’t control, and we still can’t understand. We are being helped to understand our hopes and desires but to off-set it with the realism and patience needed when dealing with trauma.

I have also recently completed the renewal of my mental health first aid course, this time round, with a different perspective. (It’s course I would thoroughly recommend!!) I read and watch a great deal about mental health and the subject fascinates me and inspires me.

By talking, by working through the lows, I am again doing the things I enjoy, I am even branching out to try new sports, to get involved in community activities and to challenge myself to be the best version of me.

My own recent experiences has driven me to look closer at how we treat our mental health, how we should exercise our mind in the same way as we exercise our bodies. Having the platform to make a real difference is my motivation.

(The MHFA England website has some great resources for the workplace and for self-awareness

Working in football, we have a real opportunity to use the sport that we all love, as a means of connection, awareness and to change people’s lives. This is our purpose and our passion. Over the coming weeks and months, Berks & Bucks FA will be working with our new charity partner on a number of exciting projects, supporting and raising awareness for those struggling with poor mental health.

My closing message is one of reflection...I thought weakness was asking for help. Strength and bravery comes from those that recognise they need help and ask for support. Speaking out and having the confidence to talk about my experiences is self-healing and raising awareness for others to do the same.