Nottingham Forest and Nottingham Forest Community Trust are working together to launch a campaign to encourage fans to talk more openly about mental health problems and seek support.
The 'It's Tricky to Talk' campaign will look to encourage people to talk about their mental health issues and rid the stigma attached to mental health.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in males aged between 30 and 40, with 75 per cent of all suicide victims in the UK being male, so the club and the trust are looking to help reach out to fans and encourage them to talk.
In 2017, the club were saddened to hear that Forest fans Jonathan McCartney, 35, and Will Garvey, 20, both unexpectedly took their own lives.
After losing their sons, the families of both Jonathan and Will reached out to the Community Trust having set up their own trusts – Jonathan's Voice and The Will Garvey Foundation (WTF – Why Talking Fixes) – to help raise awareness and encourage people to speak out about their mental health.
Rachel Whysall, Head of Performance at Nottingham Forest Community Trust, said: "After meeting the parents of both William Garvey and Jonathan McCartney it was important for both the club and Community Trust to understand how we could play a part in raising awareness of mental health and helping rid the stigma.
"With fantastic support from the Institute of Mental Health and the University of Nottingham we feel that together we can make a real difference to the mental health of those closest to us.
"By using the Nottingham Forest brand we can engage and help a demographic that is usually difficult to reach through our fans and community and encourage those who have historically found it 'tricky to talk'."
Will's mum, Joanna, added: "Will would be really pleased to know that the club he loved so much is beginning to challenge the stigma of mental health, the stigma that prevents people from accessing the support, advice and medical intervention they need. The power of a conversation should not be underestimated."
No matter how okay things seem on the outside, anyone can have these feelings and the people who stand the most chance of preventing suicides are ordinary people – the friends, family, colleagues and neighbours of those whose lives are at risk.
No one needs to suffer in silence. Support is available and there are others who will have been through similar experiences. Just talking about it can really help.
The Institute of Mental Health and the University of Nottingham have both shown their support for the campaign and how it can help to improve the mental health of not just fans of the club but the wider community also.
Assistant professor in mental health at the University of Nottingham, Dr Tim Carter PhD, BSc, PGCHE, FHEA, RN, said: "Nottingham Forest and Nottingham Forest Community Trust are putting a real effort into improving the mental health of their fans and the wider community.
"They are passionate, committed and have shown a real willingness to make a genuine and sustained difference for people.
"I believe Nottingham Forest are in a unique position to help raise awareness around mental health as their fans often feel their club is like a family and trust what they say. By engaging in this campaign, Nottingham Forest are telling their fans that they care about them, that they are not alone and although it's 'tricky', it is okay to ask for help."
Working within the Institute of Mental Health, Dr Carter's specialism in mental health and exercise is one of many areas of mental health research that is explored by the teams of academics and healthcare professionals based at the Institute in Nottingham.
Lou Rudkin, the Institute's Head of Communications, is proud to support the new campaign. She said: "There is a wealth of mental health research and expertise happening within the Institute and we're delighted to be able to support this new campaign. We've been able to share knowledge and help support the club, community trust and fans to create a campaign that will launch a new way for the everyone to talk about mental health."
The campaign will include a video featuring Forest fans talking about their mental health issues and how it can affect them in everyday life and also on matchdays at The City Ground, and all 2019-20 season card holders will receive a self-help guide with their season card for next season.
If you are experiencing mental health problems, or know someone who is, the following charities and organisations can provide further help and support:
Call: 0300 123 3393
Call: 0115 941 1111 / 116 123
Call: 0115 934 8445