Stigma Doesn’t Play, I Do

Image: Brendan Clarke, Kevin O Connor

Shelbourne Football Club (FC) and St Patrick’s Mental Health Services are delighted to announce a multi-faceted partnership aiming to reframe mental health stigma and promote mental wellbeing in the community.
Shelbourne FC is committed to embedding mental health promotion as a core value of its club ethos, and sees the holistic development of young club members, via the Shelbourne FC Youth Academy, with a membership of over 400 young people in particular, as a key part of its community work.
St Patrick’s Mental Health Services is Ireland’s largest, not-for-profit mental health service provider.  Its vision is to see a society where all citizens are empowered and given the opportunity to live mentally healthy lives.
Mental health stigma can impact how quickly we seek support when we need it.
In 2020, St Patrick’s launched the first phase of its #NoStigma campaign to reframe mental health stigma and discrimination by showing the positive effect on life when they are not experienced. Its aim is to highlight how it serves us all collectively when stigma does not exist, enabling us to fully participate and access support at home, at work and in our communities.
Taking part in community life through participation in community activities such as sport, through playing, volunteering or supporting, can positively impact mental health in daily life and can support recovery for those experiencing difficulties. Fear of mental health stigma and discrimination has the potential to hold us back unnecessarily from doing these things or from seeking support from teammates or peers.
Kicking off the partnership, and to mark the second phase of the #NoStigma campaign, Shelbourne FC will be adding the #NoStigma campaign message, “Stigma Doesn’t Play, I Do”, to the men and women’s senior teams’ home and away day match kits. The collaboration aims to create an openness and understanding about mental health and promote wellbeing among those involved with Shelbourne FC, particularly its young club members.
A recent survey carried out by the Central Statistics Office showed that almost 60% of people say their mental health has been impacted by the pandemic, with younger people more likely to have experienced recent difficulties with their wellbeing.
This is felt among all age groups throughout its club and community.
The collaboration will include:
Promotion of the #NoStigma message via the Shelbourne FC new team kits
Development of bespoke mental health promotion resources and information for club members
Participation of young club members in initiatives by Walk in My Shoes, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services’ flagship mental health education and awareness-raising campaign for young people 
Providing information and encouraging people to seek support when needed.
This initiative is particularly meaningful for members and supporters of Shelbourne FC, who sadly lost two supporters to suicide in 2018. In the same year, the club also experienced the tragic and sudden loss of a young player during one of its matches due to a rare heart condition. These events have left a lasting imprint on the club, and supporting and promoting mental health within the Shelbourne FC community has become intrinsic to its core values.
With over 1,000 club members of all ages, including 400 boys and girls in its Youth Academy, Shelbourne FC and St Patrick’s Mental Health Services have identified a significant opportunity to come together to leave mental health stigma behind. 
CEO of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Paul Gilligan, said: “We are delighted to partner with Shelbourne FC to build on the #NoStigma message within the community. As we continue to tackle the mental health challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, this partnership is an opportunity to emphasise the importance of leaving mental health stigma behind and to highlight how supporting one another can positively impact a person’s mental health journey. Our 2020 Annual Stigma survey showed that one in five of us has had a positive experience of talking about a mental health difficulty in our local community. Let’s make this everyone’s reality.”