A Falkirk-based mental health football team, run in partnership with NHS Forth Valley Occupational Therapists, Caledonia Services and Stenhousemuir Football Club was recently featured by FIFA in a article which received worldwide attention and 20 million hits on social media. Players who were interviewed said they felt very proud to be part of the team and the role it played in breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health.
Known as FUSE (Falkirk Users Soccer Experience), the team has won the Scottish Mental Health and Wellbeing Championships in both 2018 and 2019 and recently as guests of the SFA, were invited to play in a pre-Scottish Cup final mental health tournament at Hampden Park.
The team meet on a weekly basis with coach Danny Newbiggings at Stenhousemuir Football Club. All genders, ages and abilities are welcome. The aim is to increase mental and physical well being for individuals experiencing mental health problems.
According to NHS Forth Valley Mental Health Therapist Julie Cunnell, Government figures estimate that in any given year, one person in three suffers some form of mental illness. She explained: “Everyone involved in the football programme – without a single exception- has reported an improvement in their mood and a decrease in their levels of anxiety. Some of the people weren’t even able to leave the house and now you’ll see them travelling round the country for tournaments – and loving it!”