Cumberland CFA is pleased to be part of a new mental health champions scheme launched by The Football Association [The FA], to provide advice and support to grassroots match officials across the county.
The launch in Cumberland comes as the nation prepares for World Mental Health Day on 10th October, with emphasis being placed on ‘mental health in an unequal world’.
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 Cumberland 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 has 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 Geoff Ellison 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 Cumberland 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.”
Cumberland CFA’s mental health champion is Geoff Ellison.
Geoff has been a referee for over twenty years, only recently wishing to progress to Level 5 within the Cumberland County FA.
Geoff is a Registered Mental Health Nurse/ Registered General Nurse currently practising and with extensive clinical experience in caring for people living with mental and physical disorders and a proven record of achievement in both teaching and management.
With over 37 years’ experience principally in mental health, he has worked within psychiatry and acute general nursing of the NHS and within the private sector. His main areas of expertise are psychiatric nursing practice and mental health services, especially forensic, acute psychiatry, risk assessment and management of suicide, self-harm and management of violence and aggression and also with elderly care.
Geoff has taken on the mental health champion role as he is passionate about the mental health issues of referees within the County. He believes that he will endorse that good mental health throughout life can increase resilience, help to protect against mental illness and act as a buffer for normal stressors and hardships that all referees have experiences of.
If you have a confidential conversation regarding your mental health, then please first make contact with Geoff via email HERE
Scott Taylor, CFA Referee Development Officer said: "I am delighted to learn of Geoff’s new appointment as The Mental Health Champion for Grassroots Referees as I know he has been keen to support our match officials in some sort of capacity like this for a long time. He has a vast amount of experience in this field from many years of similar service in the NHS. I look forward to supporting Geoff in the role as best I can, and I know he is eager to get started as he has already met with me to discuss a few ways in which he feels he can provide that all important mental wellbeing support to our referee workforce here in Cumberland.”
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