TUESDAY'S Checkatrade Trophy game against Swindon Town falls on the eve of World Mental Health Day and we are marking that occasion by dedicating the fixture to a subject close to the hearts of everyone on both sides of the perimeter boards at Home Park.
Recently, we lost someone very close to us, Rhys Hammacott, 23, who had worked at Home Park and whose mother Sharon is a valued member of the Argyle staff. His death was linked to poor mental health, and Rhys’s family and friends have already raised thousands of pounds to help promote awareness of the subject.
Rhys’s sister Becca, who is also part of the Argyle family, said: “Suicide is happening too much in men recently. Mental health goes unrecognised all the time and leaves family with heartache and devastation.
“We just wish that knowing how loved Rhys was was enough, but mental health needs more support than it is given.”
Argyle midfielder Jamie Ness agrees with that sentiment. His wife, Heather has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition popularly associated with soldiers returning from war but actually an anxiety syndrome caused by any very stressful, frightening or distressing events.
One way that Heather deals with PTSD is by talking about it. Check out her website, theimperfectlyperfectparent.com – “I learned that I HAD to talk to free myself from fatal pain I had been carrying for far too long,” she writes. “I realised there could be thousands of people carrying that weight, too, and it petrified me to think there were others just like me, holding on to such loneliness and pain.”
The World Federation for Mental Health is focusing the 2018 World Mental Health Day on Young People like Rhys and Heather. They want to bring attention to the issues youth and young adults are facing in our world today and begin the conversation around what they need in order to grow up healthy, happy and resilient.
Mind, the mental health charity in England and Wales, offers information and advice to people with mental health problems; lobbies government and local authorities on their behalf; and works to raise public awareness and understanding of issues relating to mental health.
For this season and next, Mind are partnering with the EFL – their ‘squiggle’ logo can be seen in the name of every player on the back of match shirts – hoping that, by raising the visibility of mental health problems, they can be game-changers. They want fans to know that, whether they feel overloaded, overwhelmed or burnt out, Mind and the EFL are, as their partnership slogan encapsulates, On Your Side.
They are not the only ones. Inside the programme for Tuesday's game – and especially on the fold-out poster with Jamie and Conor Grant – there are dozens of contact details for mental health providers local and nationally, including our own Argyle Community Trust, which works closely with the National Health Service.
One of those is Malesallowed, an initiative of Argyle supporter Paul Thompson, who is at Tuesday's match and who fully embraces a mental health mantra which we make no apologies for repeating again and again.
It’s Okay Not to Be Okay.