Senior Everton Officials Take Part In Mental Health Awareness Course

If you need mental health support or to find out more about The People's Place project, click here.

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To mark World Mental Health Day today, Everton CEO, Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale, first-team manager Marco Silva and club captain Phil Jagielka have undertaken a mental health awareness training session as part of the Club's ongoing work to promote positive mental health.

The trio joined other senior Everton figures, including Director of Football Marcel Brands, in undertaking the 'Ambassadors of Hope' training, which was delivered by Liverpool-based national mental health charity Chasing the Stigma and its founder, Evertonian Jake Mills.

The session, which took place at the Club's USM Finch Farm training ground, provided the group with an understanding of mental health and how best to identify the signs that someone may be suffering.

They were also given guidance on how to effectively signpost individuals to support provision using the online resource, The Hub of Hope, and advice on dealing with crisis situations.

Everton Football Club and its official charity, Everton in the Community, has an ongoing commitment to tackling the stigma around mental health and recently launched a new mental health-focused campaign to raise funds to build a permanent facility – called ‘The People’s Place’ – in the shadows of Goodison Park.


With a fundraising target of £1million, Everton in the Community aims to develop, build and maintain a new purpose-built facility that will become a delivery site for programmes and enable signposting to other services. ‘The People’s Place’ will provide an overarching service to anyone, regardless of age, gender or location, to promote positive mental health and deliver support relating to suicide awareness and prevention.

As part of the campaign, Everton Football Club and its official charity has made a commitment to equip all its staff with an understanding of mental health through accredited training, with Everton CEO Barrett-Baxendale and some of the Club’s most senior officials becoming the first group of staff to complete Chasing the Stigma’s ‘Ambassadors of Hope’ training programme, underlining the importance the Club places on the training.

There was also an opportunity for the group, which included Club Ambassador Graham Stuart, People Director Kim Healey and Director of Marketing, Communications and Community, Richard Kenyon, to put their own questions forward and share opinions and ideas about the development of 'The People’s Place' facility.

Chasing the Stigma aims to remove any negativity associated to mental illness by using first-hand experiences to disarm and normalise the topic in order to change the way society approaches mental illness.

Speaking after the training session, Everton CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale said: “When you are provided with the statistics that reveal both the number of young people taking their own lives each year and the number at risk of suicide, it is absolutely staggering. As a football club, we are determined to reach out and help.

“We need people to come in and receive support. That means overcoming any concerns related to embarrassment or stigma that may be preventing people seeking help. Having a purpose-built facility that provides this opportunity, just as we would with people with physical health, is essential. We want people to know there is an opportunity to secure positive mental health support and that it is okay to say, ‘I’m not feeling too good today’.

“This is a real community issue and therefore we should be reaching out as a football club to help the most vulnerable people, using the power of football to say, ‘We all have mental health, as we have physical health, and please come to speak to us in order for us to support you'.

“It’s also vital to raise awareness of tools like Chasing the Stigma’s Hub of Hope app, which is available to all of us to access now in order to help ourselves - or to help signpost others to potentially life-saving support.”

Everton first team manager Marco Silva said: “The People’s Place project is important to us as a Club and as a charity – we are more than just a club, we are a family. We want to support our fans and community and do everything we can to help them.”

Club captain Phil Jagielka added: “The statistics around how many people need help - or who, very sadly, don't receive help in time – are alarming and it opens your eyes. Jake coming here to share his own personal experiences and guide us through the protocol - and what to do and how to be helpful – ensures we are better equipped to help someone in need. It’s being there when someone needs you and making sure you ask the right questions.

“Mental health is a massive thing. If you had a broken leg or sore back you’d probably go and see a doctor. For whatever reason, in previous years, if you’re not feeling quite yourself and you can’t put your finger on it, rather than going to seek professional help so many people bury it deep down or speak to someone who maybe doesn’t know how to deal with it themselves. It’s nice to be able to openly talk about things like this and encourage other people to talk - and receive guidance on how best to help people.”


Chasing the Stigma founder Jake Mills said: “What we try to do through the Ambassadors of Hope training is to create a baseline level of understanding about mental health. What we’re not trying to do is make people experts, but we don’t believe you have to be in order to have that level of understanding to know what to do in those situations.

“Education is essential if we’re talking about the stigmas attached to mental health and the significant numbers of deaths by suicide. Almost three-quarters of people who died in the last year by suicide were not known to mental health services or had not been seen for at least a year. By doing this training and by educating the people on the routes to follow, we can really reduce those numbers and allow people to know that they are not alone.”

Everton in the Community has been delivering award-winning, life-changing and life-saving mental health provision across Merseyside for more than 10 years, supporting more than 5,000 individuals with bespoke programmes for those in need. 

The charity’s existing long-running mental health-focused programmes and services will continue to be delivered and developed during the fundraising campaign. A community consultation will take place to ensure that the new building meets the extensive needs and requirements of the local community and brings a significant impact to people’s lives through a diverse range of activities and services. 

Everyone has mental health in the same way that everyone has physical health and one in four people experience poor mental health each year whilst suicide kills 150 people across Merseyside a year. Mental illness and suicide are significant public health challenges which are more common in more significantly deprived inner-city areas such as L4 where almost the entire ward of Everton falls into the most deprived five percent of neighbourhoods nationally.

The People’s Place will be built right in the heart of Liverpool 4 and the new mental health facility, subject to planning permission, will be positioned within the Goodison Campus adjacent to the £1.2million People’s Hub on Spellow Lane – just 200 metres from Goodison Park. A community consultation will take place to ensure that the new building meets the extensive needs and requirements of the local community and brings a significant impact to people’s lives through a diverse range of activities and services. 

The Club will also work closely with mental health specialists from Chasing the Stigma to ensure that ‘The People’s Place’ will provide the very best and most effective mental health support facilities, as well as maintaining its commitment to tackling the stigma around mental health.

There are plenty of ways for you to get involved and give your support to The People’s Place. You can click here to donate directly to the cause or visit www.peoplesplace.net for more information.

For more information on Chasing the Stigma’s ‘Ambassadors of Hope’ training visit https://chasingthestigma.co.uk/ambassador-of-hope-mental-health-training/

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues, visit the Hub of Hope to find your nearest and most relevant source of support. The web app is available online, in the App Store and in the Play Store. It is free to download and use and also free for organisations to register, simply visit: https://chasingthestigma.co.uk/hub-of-hope/

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