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How the game of football is helping local men to talk about their mental health

Westbourne resident is using his own mental health struggles to help others by setting up a football team which encourages conversation around these issues.

Warning: This article contains references to suicide.

Football plays a massive role in many people’s lives in Hampshire, and a Westbourne resident wants to use the sport to get people talking about mental health.

Pete Lockyer is one of the founders of United Minds FC, a team that aims to create an environment which not just allows but encourages its members to talk about their mental health and wellbeing.

He described himself as ‘one man trying to make a small difference’ since opening up about his own mental health struggles earlier this year in a live interview on streaming service Twitch.

“A friend of mine does the gaming streams, and he was like ‘Why don’t you come on and talk about it? Do you think you’re ready for it?’, and I was like let’s go for it,” Pete explained.

“Through my 20s a lot had happened in my personal life, good and bad. I’m very open and honest about it now, I made a couple of suicide attempts. I had been through so much, but I felt like I was on good footing when this interview come about.”

The interview was part of a 24 hour stream raising money for Mind and other mental health organisations, and you can see the full interview here:

Pete said: “I did the interview and I told my whole life story, and it went crazy. The reaction was incredible, and I then received messages asking me for advice. I thought at that point I needed to keep moving forward, because for my mental health, it is amazing to help others.”

United Mind FC’s first game will be against Solent Sports FC in the Crest Finance Stadium in Fareham, home of non-league side AFC Porchester, Friday October 8 at 18:30, with all money made from the event going to Solent Mind.

“I just wanted to give back in a sense, and my friend from home said ‘we all play football, every one of us around here have some links to football, why do we not just do a charity football game?’

“And I didn’t want to stop there, so I wanted to make a team where guys could come and speak up. I’ve seen how my posts help others, so if I can get 16 other men at least on my team speaking about just everyday emotions, I think that could be powerful.”

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Read our toolkit for tips on how to cope with anxiety as crowds return to football after lockdown: 
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