To mark World Mental Health Day, Everton in the Community hosted another hugely successful national football tournament on Monday.
Goals Sports Centre in Netherton played host to the National Mental Health Football Championships, which involved 20 teams from across the United Kingdom.
The annual event is organised to raise awareness of World Mental Health Day and the benefits that football and physical activity can have on a person’s mental health wellbeing.
Each side was made up of those involved from mental health and wellbeing programmes, with Everton in the Community’s pioneering mental health initiative, Imagine Your Goals, also participating.
Also taking part were teams representing the community programmes from Hull City, Middlesbrough, Stoke City, Blackburn Rovers and Carlisle United.
Supporting the event was Everton Football Club Ambassador Graham Stuart.
“World Mental Health Day is an important event,” said the former Blues midfielder. “We’ve got people here today at the tournament from as far as Carlisle and Hull - everybody loves playing football and the lads talk to each other to share their issues, which is what it is all about.
“These people are inspirational. All of the participants have seen very dark days in their lives but they have come to an event like this and are surrounded by people with similar issues that they have had to deal with in their life.
“This initiative [Imagine You Goals] changes and saves people’s lives - and it’s not an exaggeration to say that.”
The official charity of Everton has an exemplary record of tackling mental health issues.
Working in partnership with Mersey Care NHS Trust since 2007, the charity launched its groundbreaking fitness programme, Imagine Your Goals, in 2008 to offer local people living with mental health issues the opportunity to talk about their problems and seek help and support in a familiar environment.
Johnnie Garside, Health and Wellbeing Manager for Everton in the Community, said: “Today is about promoting good mental health as well as good recovery.
“Ultimately, it’s about getting everyone together with shared experiences. We want to reward people who are doing well in terms of their recovery and their playing ability.
“This is our third year hosting the tournament and it has got bigger and better with more teams participating from a large geographical region.”
for more information on the Imagine Your Goals initiative.